OF CALIF. LIBRARY. LOS ANGELES
And then came Azalea.
The Story of a Girl
Blue Ridge Mountains
ELIA W. PEATTIE
The Reilly & Britton Co.
The Reilly & Britton Co.
I THE MCBIRNEYS 9
II NEW FRIENDS 28
III IN HIDING 47
IV NEW CLOTHES 69
V THE SHOALS 88
VI GROWING PAINS 108
VII THE SINGING 123
VIII THE KIDNAPPING 143
IX HAYSTACK THOMPSON 162
X THE ESCAPE 181
XI THE SUMMERS FAMILY . . 198
XII MA SAYS No 215
XIII AT HOME AGAIN 236
XIV THE SACRIFICE 247
XV AZALEA CHOOSES 265
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
And then came Azalea Frontispiece
" She ran out to meet me," he cried 92
" So that's your story, missy." 178
He stood there, straight and fierce 270
The Story of a Girl of the Blue Ridge
The guinea hens wanted everybody to get up.
They said so right under the bedroom window;
and the turkey gobbler had the same wish and
made it known in his most important manner.
Hours before, Mr. Rhode Island Red, the
rooster, had expressed his opinion on the subject,
and from the first pale hint of dawn till the sun
swung up in the clear May sky, a great company
of tanagers, robins, martins, meadow larks and
their friends had suggested, each in his own way,
that it was time to be awake.
But really, it didn't need all of this clamor
to get the McBirneys out of bed. Since sunup,
Thomas McBirney had been planting cotton on
the red clay terraces of his mountain farm; and
Mary McBirney, his wife, had been busied lay-
ing her hearth-fire, getting the breakfast and
feeding the crowing, cackling, gobbling crea-
tures in the yard. And three times she had
thrust her head in at the door of the lean-to to
say that if she were a boy she'd get up and see
what a pretty day it was.
James Stuart McBirney, otherwise Jim,
thought his mother was right about almost every-
thing, but he did differ with her about getting
up when a fellow felt like a log and his eyes
were as tight as ticks. He had heard her say
there was a time for everything, and it seemed to
him that the time to sleep was when a fellow
was sleepy. Why should sensible people send
him to bed when he wasn't sleepy and make him
get up when he was?
Besides, something kept nagging away in the
back of his mind. It was something that he
ought to remember, and couldn't quite, on ac-
count of being so sleepy. Or perhaps he didn't
want to remember it. At any rate, it wouldn't
let him rest in comfort, but pecked away like a
woodpecker at a tree. So, in spite of himself, it
all came back to him. Ma was out of " fat pine "
for kindling, and he must go hunting it.
THE McBIRNEYS 11
Well, if he must
" It don't seem as you ought to be so long
getting into such a few clothes, Jimmy," a soft
voice called. " You'll be falling into lazy habits
if you don't set a watch on yourself, and you'll
never get shet of them, long as you live."
" Yessum," said Jim.
" I can see your pa a-coming 'cross the fields
now, and I reckon if you don't do some hustling
he'll catch you dawdling."
" I've been hearing that Aunt Nan Leiter's
got a making of that blue dye like I've been
wanting. I reckon after you've got the wood
you'd better walk over yon and get the bucket
of it she promised to give me."
"And, Jimmy, here's your pa."
" Ain't you washed yet, son ? Shame on you ! "
There was a wild splashing of water on the
back porch where the wash basin stood, a gasp-
ing and panting, and then, with one last
" Yessum," James Stuart McBirney stood in the
door. His turned-up nose, his freckles and his
blue eyes all shone as if he had polished them,
and his curling, clay-colored hair had drawn
itself up in tight ringlets about his head.
He had been hoping that no one would pay
any attention to him, and he had his wish. Ma
was setting breakfast on the table, steaming hot
from the hearth. Pa was standing outside the
door shading his eyes with one hand.
" What all are you peering at that a-way, Pa
McBirney? " asked his wife. " Is it some one
coming over the gap? I heard tell that Sam
Bixby and his brothers was about to bring over
a string of horses from their place for trading
day at Lee. As like as not it's them you're
" No it ain't, Mary and it ain't nobody we
ever set eyes on before."
" Why, Thomas, how can you tell that, with
them just coming over the top of the gap? "
"Well!" said Pa McBirney, "I'll be dum-
At that Jim and his mother went to the door.
They thought it was about time to see what was
ailing pa. The three had a way of sharing every-
thing; and it was no wonder that they did so,
THE McBIRNEYS 13
for they had only themselves for company. Their
cabin, with its two large rooms, its open chamber
between, and the lean-to, where Jim slept, sat on
a pleasant bench of Mount Tennyson, two thou-
sand feet above the level of the sea. Through
their yard ran the road that carried people from
over Burlingame way, on the other side of the
mountain, down to Lee, the town that lay below
them in the purple valley. Sometimes, when
the wind was right, they could hear the mill
whistles blow at Lee, or the church bells ring;
and sometimes they could see the houses there
as plain as anything. But usually the little town
looked to them as if it were wrapped around in
purple veils; and when the rain came, it was
swallowed up in white blankness.
The McBirneys thought they lived in a very
pleasant and exciting place. Sometimes as many
as five or six teams passed their door in one day,
and it was seldom indeed that anyone drove by
without stopping to pass the time of day. If by
chance the McBirneys were sitting down to a
meal, the travelers were asked to share it with
them, and to water their horses and take a little
rest before going on down the mountain. Ma
said it was a fine thing for them, being taken
unawares like that. It made them keep the house
tidy and themselves ready to see folks. But there
were weeks of rain or snow there on the moun-
tain side when almost nobody passed, and
when the McBirneys couldn't get to town; and
the only sounds to be heard were their own
voices and the baying of the four hounds, or the
crying of the trees and the crackling of the fire
on the hearth.
Not long ago, there had been four of them
instead of three. There had been Molly, Jim's
little sister, a little girl with hair the color of
corn silk, and eyes as dark as " spider lilies."
And now she was lying under that tiny heap
of earth beneath the Pride of India tree, and
Jim's mother was different quite different
from what she had been before. Her face was
sweeter, perhaps, but it looked so that Jim
couldn't keep from crying, to himself, of course.
And in spite of all they could do, all three of
them kept counting Molly in; and now as he
ran to the door to see what was going on up
there at the gap, he couldn't help thinking how
much more fun it would have been if he and
Molly had been pushing and scrambling and
pretending to see which could get out first, in
THE McBIRNEYS 15
the old way. In those old days his mother would
have been calling out in the laughing voice she
used to have:
" Come along, children, something's going
But now father, mother and boy were silent
as they stood together looking up where the red
road made its way through the forest over the
Pa was the first to speak.
" As near as I can make out," he said slowly,
" it's three wagons loaded to the limit, and a lot
of people on foot walking alongside."
" Queer doings, ain't it? " murmured ma.
" I allow I'd better run up the road a piece,"
Jim said, slipping in his words softly, as if he
hoped they might go unnoticed, " and see what's
" And I allow," said his father in his most
downright voice, " that we-all will just sit down
and eat that there good breakfast ma has cooked,
and if we keep eating steady we'll be through
with the whole business before them folks, who-
ever they be, gets anywhere nigh."
" Oh, yes! " added ma, " I do wish you'd sit
1 6 AZALEA
down and eat things while they're hot and fit
So they sat down and went at their breakfast
as if it were a piece of hard work that must be
got out of the way, and then, having finished
and slipped what was left to Molly's cat and the
four hounds, they got out of doors as quickly
as they could.
" The procession is hid around the bend of
the road," said ma.
But even as she spoke the words, the " pro-
cession " appeared, though it was almost above
the McBirney's heads. Both men and animals
were moving along very slowly, as if as pa
put it they were "dead beat."
" It looks," said ma softly, " like a funeral."
" No, it don't nuther, ma," pa answered
sharply. " It don't look nothing like a funeral.
It looks like a family moving."
" It's a mighty large family then, Thomas."
" Maybe it's folks going down to work in the
cotton mill at Lee," Jim suggested. " I heard
Rath Rutherford saying there was agents going
all through the mountains, asking folks to go
down and work."
" Yes, folks with children," snapped Pa Me-
THE McBIRNEYS 17
Birney. " That's the kind they want, and that's
the kind that'll go folks that can get their
boys and girls in the mill and make 'em work
for 'em. I'd see myself lying down and letting
my children put food in my mouth!"
" Well, as near as I can make out," said Mary
McBirney, " there's only two children in that
company. All the rest is grown folks."
The three wagons with their sagging cloth
tops, swung around the next curve and turned
toward the McBirney cabin. The horses walked
with drooping heads; the people dragged their
feet. Pa went forward to meet them, and close
behind him, trying hard to see and not to be
seen, went Jim. Ma McBirney went back and
sat on a chair in the doorway, something as a
queen might go back and sit on her throne.
" Howdy," said pa.
" Howdy," responded the man who led the
first pair of horses.
Pa asked no questions that would not have
been polite according to his idea. He seemed
not to look at the tired horses or the still more
weary men and women, or at the wagons with
their queer load. All he said was:
" There's a good spring of water over yon, if
i 8 AZALEA
so be you're wanting water; and this here bench
is a good one to rest on before going on down
By " bench " he meant, of course, the level
bit of land on the mountain side.
Jim knew that his father was simply quiver-
ing inside, just as he was himself, to know what
those people were doing and what they were
carrying in their wagons.
The man looked at pa and nodded.
" We're about tuckered out," he admitted.
" Come far? " asked pa. It hurt his pride to
ask the question, but he had to do it. The man
looked at pa impatiently.
" Why, we're always on the road," he said.
" We've got a show here."
A show! Jim felt something running up his
spine something that felt as cold and swift
as a lizard. It was really a thrill of excitement,
but Jim was afraid it was some sort of sickness.
He was not used to the feeling.
The queer procession came to a stop in the
McBirney clearing. There were three covered
wagons, six thin horses, five men, two women,
a boy and a girl. All were walking. The man
to whom pa had spoken was pale, fat and tired
THE McBIRNEYS 19
looking, and while pa was looking him over in
his quiet way the man took off his hat and
wiped the moisture from his head.
"We're out of luck," he said. "There's a
dying woman in that last wagon the smartest
performer of the bunch. Sing or dance or any-
thing. That's her girl there." He pointed to a
slender girl of about Jim's own age, who stood
staring off into the valley, though Jim, who had
seen that same sort of a look in his mother's
face, knew she wasn't really seeing it. She
wasn't seeing anything, he decided.
" Sho! " murmured Pa McBirney. " Dying?
Are you sure? "
The man thwacked a huge horsefly on his
" Sure," said he.
One of the women asked pa if they might
cook their breakfast in the open " rock " fire-
place that stood there in the yard.
" Yes, ma'am," said pa quickly. And then
he called : " Here, ma, these folks want to cook
their breakfast here a-way. And they say
there's a mighty sick woman in that tent-wagon
Mary McBirney, whose shyness had kept her
sitting as still as if she were under some spell,
got up at once when she heard this, and came
forward. She nodded to the men and women
without really looking at them, because that was
her way with strangers.
"Where's the sick woman, please?" she
asked in her soft voice. The girl who had stood
looking at the valley turned at this.
" I'll show you, please ma'am," she said, and
her voice sounded so tired that it made a lump
come in Jim's throat.
Mary McBirney reached down and took the
girl's thin brown hand in her own, and the two
went on to the wagon, the others watching them.
They saw her lean forward .and look in the
wagon, and then draw back with a startled face.
"Why, it's over!" she called. "Pa! Pa!
The poor soul's gone!"
At that the other women ran toward her.
" Why, she was breathing a mile or two
back," the one they called Betty said. " I
looked in at her and gave her a drink."
" We didn't stay in the wagon because it shut
out the air," explained the other. " Zalie here,
wanted to stay with her mamma, but we coaxed
THE McBIRNEYS 21
her not to, for the poor thing needed all the air
she could get."
But the girl was in the wagon now, letting
her tears rain on the face of the only one in all
the world she ever had called her own.
Betty Bowen began to call to her to come out,
but Ma McBirney said: "Just let her cry!
Poor little thing she's just got to cry."
Betty Bowen, and her friend Susan Hetter,
began to sniffle a little too, but Mary McBirney
looking at them made up her mind that they
were not caring very much. They looked too
dragged out to care about anything. The dust
of the road seemed to have got into their very
skin ; they looked as if they never had slept in a
proper bed or dressed in a proper room; and
though Mrs. McBirney did not like them, and
could hardly keep from drawing away from
them, she felt very sorry for them too.
"Where's the girl's pa?" she asked them.
" We don't know," Betty Bowen said. " Mrs.
Knox that's the dead woman, ma'am never
said anything about him."
"Ain't she got no kin?" asked ma gently.
" None that we know of, ma'am."
Jim stood looking on, his lips pressed hard
together. The girl's mother was dead. Her
mother 'was dead! Why, that must be like
having the world come to an end, pretty near.
If your mother was dead, it didn't matter if
if you did belong to a show. But that boy
over there, his mother wasn't dead, and yet he
acted as " dumb " as a snail. Jim felt that if
he, himself, belonged to a show he'd be yelling
and jumping and having a whopping time.
Every spare minute he'd be practicing up in his
part. But these folks acted as if they hardly
had life enough to cross the yard; and as for
the horses, their heads hung down and their
bones stuck out as if they were ready for the
buzzards to pick. Jim hated to have that girl
crying like that. There was no fun in having
a show in your yard when a girl was making
such a noise. He tried to forget about it, and
walked around looking in the wagons not the
wagon where the girl was, but the others -
hoping to find some wild animals in cages. But
the only wild animals he saw were made out of
" What's them for? " he asked one of the men,
pointing to a wooden zebra and a somewhat
THE McBIRNEYS 23
" For the merry-go-round," said the man.
" Ever see one? " Jim shook his head, and the
man tried to tell him what a merry-go-round
was like. Jim was disgusted to think how long
he had lived without seeing anything like that.
" I should think," he said to the man, " that
this here bench would be a good place to set up
"Oh, fine!" answered the man with a dis-
agreeable laugh. " Then all the jack rabbits
and spit cats in the whole neighborhood could
come, couldn't they? "
" If you'd set it up, please sir," said Jim, " I'd
run all over the mountain in no time, telling the
folks about it. There's lots of folks on this
mountain more'n you'd think. They'd pay
But the head man, Sisson, had come up and
begun talking about the dead woman.
" I'm just figuring," he said, " whether to
take her down to a burying ground in the next
town, or to make a grave up here."
Just then Jim's father came up.
" My wife says for you-all to leave that poor
woman right up here," he said. " She can be
buried out there by that Pride of India tree
beside our little girl, and ma will keep every-
thing looking fine plant roses, you know, and
The men didn't seem to care much about
"Thanks," said Sisson shortly; " that'll be all
"How could it be 'all right'?" Jim won-
dered. Now that he had stopped talking about
the show he could hear that girl again, and it
made him feel very, very queer. The lump
came back in his throat and things sort of shook
before his eyes. He felt as if something in him
was going to burst. And just then some one
touched him on the shoulder. He looked up
and saw his mother standing there. Her face
seemed unusually thin and white and her eyes
very large, and there was something so kind-
so terribly, heart-breakingly kind in them,
that the something in him did burst, and he
found himself crying in his mother's dress.
" I reckon if you feel as sorry as that for the
poor girl, you'll like to do something to help."
Jim nodded, not being able to speak.
" Well, you get a cup of fresh milk and carry
it to my bedroom. I'm going to get the poor
child in there and coax her to lie down."
THE McBIRNEYS 25
Jim ran to the spring house tormented all
the while with those sobs in his throat and
filled the tall horn cup with milk. When he
carried it into his mother's room he found the
girl lying on the bed, with Ma McBirney bath-
ing her face and talking to her softly.
" I'm unplaitingyour hair, dear," she was say-
ing in a voice so soft that it made Jim think of
the pigeons out at the barn, " and I'm going
to smooth it. You don't mind, do you?"
" No'm," said the girl brokenly.
" And here's the milk, all nice and cold. If
it would please you to drink a little of that! "
She half-lifted the little figure in her arms
and held her so while the girl let the cool milk
run down her hot throat. Jim noticed that when
she lay down again, she took the edge of ma's
apron between her fingers and held on to it.
Jim understood why. He felt just like doing
" My little girl that died," said ma, still in
that soft, cooing voice, " had yellow hair. Yours
is brown, but it's just as pretty."
The girl twisted ma's apron in and out around
her fingers; she could think of nothing to say.
" My little Molly's eyes was blue, but yours
is just the color of Job's tears."
"Job's tears?" asked the girl. "What are
they, please ma'am?"
" You don't know what Job's tears be, honey?
Why they're the prettiest little things sort of
beans, they be and folks dries and strings 'em.
Jimmy, you fetch that string from the bureau."
Jim brought the string of softly polished gray
beadlike things, and Ma McBirney slipped
them softly over the girl's head.
" They just match your eyes, honey. You
must wear them to remember me by! "
" Thank you, ma'am. But I'll remember you
anyway. You'll be taking care of mamma for
" Now here, honey, don't you start crying
again ! You can do all the crying you want by
and by. But now I want you to listen to me.
What call have you got to go on with them
show people? "
"What else can I do, ma'am? They're all
the people I know."
" What do you do in the show? "
" Not much now since my pony died. I used
to ride him, ma'am. Now I sell things pea-
nuts or pictures or songs or anything."
A wave of scarlet went over her face, and
THE McBIRNEYS 27
Jim knew she hated being with the show and he
wondered why. He would have liked to do that
kind of thing very well.
" Tell me I won't tell no one be they
good to you?" asked ma.
The girl turned her tear-darkened eyes on
"Oh, I don't know I don't know!" she
broke out. "Oh, I'm so tired! What shall I
do? What shall I do?"
Ma McBirney stooped down and put both
arms tight about the girl's shaking form.
" I reckon you'd better stay right here with
me," she said. " I'm needing a little girl terri-
ble; and you've lost your ma. You stay right
here with me. What do you say to that? "
The girl sat up in bed and looked straight
into Ma McBirney's eyes.
"They'd never let me!" she cried.
" Now maybe they would, dear. Would you
"Oh!" sighed the girl; "Oh, ma'am!"
" What was that name I heard them calling
" Zalie, ma'am. My name is Azalea."
How does news spread on the mountain side?
Who carried the word to the little lonely cabins
on the wide sides of old Tennyson mountain that
there were " things going on " at the Mc-
Birney's? Did the buzzards wing the message
or the bald-headed eagle that kept eyrie in
the blasted Norway pine above the ginseng lot?
Or the martins that made their home in the dried
gourds that had been swung for them on the
high crosstrees before the McBirney's door?
However that may be, by noon the people be-
gan to arrive. Some of them rode their mules
or horses; some drove in their carts or wagons;
but the greater number came on foot, slipping
along the steep paths on the pine needles, or
leaping among the rocks, sure of foot, long of
limb, and caring nothing for distance.
They were quiet folk with soft voices and
with their hearts in the right place. So, though
they wanted as much as if they had been chiL
NEW FRIENDS 29
dren, to see the merry-go-round and all the rest
of the show, they would not so much as hint at
it because of the dead woman who lay all clean
and decent on the ironing board laid across two
sawhorses, there in the open room between the
bedroom and the kitchen, in Mary McBirney's
house. Over her a fresh sheet fell. On her
bosom lay branches of wild azalea, for her name,
too, had been Azalea.
The mistress of the house went about with a
strange look on her face. She listened to all
that was said to her, but she seemed not really
" Your ma hadn't ought to be seeing all these
folks and going through this experience,"
Thomas McBirney said to his boy Jim. " It's
getting on her mind."
" It's that there girl," Jim whispered. " I
heard her asking her if she didn't want to live
here with us."
" Sho ! " said pa. " That's how the land lays !
And what did the little girl say? "
" We might go for some fresh water to the
spring," said Jim, " and then we can talk."
So these two good friends set off together, and
Jim told his father all that he had heard his
mother and Azalea say to each other.
" There's a good deal of whiskey being passed
around, on the quiet among them show folks,"
said pa. " It ain't only the men that's taking it
neither. I hold with your ma that we've got a
call to see to that girl. What if our Molly had
been left like that and she'd fallen to the care
of them that was evil in their ways, and been let
go to destruction by Christians that might have
saved her and wouldn't on account of blind self-
On their way back from the spring they saw
old Elder Mills coming along on his tall mule.
Some one had summoned him to preach the
funeral sermon. Jim knew just how he would
do, shouting out in his wild singsong till the
mountains echoed, and rilling the people
with fear. He looked like a giant as he rode
toward them, his thick, curling iron-gray hair
standing out all over his head and his dark eyes
burning like fires in their deep sockets.
"Look a-here, Elder," Pa McBirney said;
" before we get up where the folks is, I've a
request to make of you. You size up them there
NEW FRIENDS 31
show people. You've had experience and you
know the good from the bad."
"Judge not that ye be not judged!" roared
the elder. " It is the Lord's business to divide
the sheep from the goats."
" Maybe, maybe, Elder," said pa soothingly.
" But you're something of a hand at it yourself.
And I'm asking you to see my wife in private.
She's got something on her mind, Elder, and
she needs your help."
"All right, brother McBirney," the elder
agreed. " Anything I can do for sister Mc-
Birney, it gives me pleasure to do, sir, for a
better woman I never did know, and I've known
a power of good ones in my time."
Half an hour after they had got back to the
clearing, Jimmy, who was standing around wait-
ing for a chance to get acquainted with the boy
who had come with the show people, heard his
father and mother and Elder Mills bidding the
show people to come into the kitchen. He
knew well enough what they were going to talk
about. His pa and ma were going to ask that
poor girl of them. The mountain people who
had gathered, and who were making themselves
at home there in the clearing, seemed to guess
what was in the wind. Jim heard his mother's
friend, Mrs. Leiter saying: " It would be the
best thing that could come to the child. Mrs.
McBirney would be a real mother to her; and
like as not the child would put heart into Mrs.
McBirney. She ain't never been herself a min-
ute since Molly was took. To my seeing, them
show folks ain't the kind to have charge of a
child particularly not a nice little girl like
By and by all of those who had been in the
kitchen came out, and Jim could see from the
way they looked that they hadn't been able to
agree. His mother's face was whiter and more
strained than ever; and the light in the old
elder's eyes was really fierce. The show people
seemed out of humor and they went off by them-
selves and began cooking their dinner, having
nothing to do with the mountain folks. Jim had
to help his mother with her dinner then. She
was asking the neighbors to share with her, and
the women all turned in to pare potatoes and
mix up corn bread and beat up eggs. There
was a busy hour or two, and then after all had
eaten, a sort of quiet settled on the gathering.
They were waiting for the sun to slide a little
NEW FRIENDS 33
further over the mountain, for the day was a
very hot one for May. It gave Jim a chance to
slip around from place to place, silent as a lizard
and saying nothing. He wanted to get ac-
quainted with the show boy, and after what
seemed a long time, he found a chance to speak
" If you want to come with me," he said in his
drawling, pleasant mountain voice, " I'll show
you my mill wheel."
" Did you make it? " demanded the boy. He
was a queer, black little creature, who looked
as if he had been carved out of a nut. His arms
were too long for his body, but they were so
strong that he could " chin " himself on the low
decreasing of the shed without any trouble
whatever. Jim had already discovered that.
He had seen the boy hanging out on a long tree
limb and dropping like a cat. All of his ways
were quick and sharp, and he had a sly look like
that of a half-fed hound. Jim never had seen a
boy like this and he felt shy with him. But for
all of that, he was determined to know him.
" 'Deed and I made the wheel," he said to the
boy. " It runs right smart, too."
" How far away is it? "
" Just down by the second waterfall. We
don't need to go 'round by the road. We can
drop right down the face of the rocks."
" All right," said the boy.
So they slid down the sheer drop of the rocks
till they came to a place where the mountain
stream widened out into a tiny pool, and then,
forced once more into a trough-like gorge,
poured on over the face of the rocks. Here Jim
had made a mill wheel on which he had worked
many a day. The show boy looked at it
" It's a right smart wheel," he admitted. He
stopped it with one of his dark, slender fingers,
and then started it again, and Jim's tongue
loosened, and he told him about all the other
wheels he had made, and why this was better
than any of the others.
After a time they stuck their hot, dusty toes
in the pool and sat there watching the world.
The sun and shadow raced over the valley be-
low; a hawk wheeled above their heads; little
creatures danced over the face of the pool.
"What's your name, please?" asked Jim.
" Hi Kitchell."
" Mine's Jim McBirney."
NEW FRIENDS 35
" I know that already."
" Are your folks with the show."
" Sisson, he's my uncle. He runs the show."
" Do you do tricks."
" Yes, lots of 'em. And I do chores do
more chores than tricks."
" Do you get paid? "
" Not regular. I get my board and keep. I
wish I could stay home with ma, and get some
work to do in town. There's four of us, and
pa's dead, so my uncle, he said he'd take me off
" I'd like to go with a show."
"Would you?" cried the other. His nutlike
face seemed to grow old, and he looked at Jim
from under his long lashes. " Would you like
sleeping out in the rain, picking up meals here
and there, and going on day after day, no mat-
ter how you feel? If the old folks take the
notion, that's what happens to a fella. And then
the being funny, that's the worst. I hate to be
funny just because folks have paid to see me
" That girl, is she funny? "
" Funny? " The dark boy puzzled over this
quite a while. " I don't know about funny.
She's queer! Her ma was queer too. Not a
bit like the other women. She was good to me,
and taught me out of books and talked to me
about my manners. And she could make the
people listen when she sang or danced, you bet! "
" Does that girl like the show? "
" No, I reckon not. It's no place for a nice
girl to be. But they'll keep her. The people
just clap and clap when she does things, she's so
'cute, someway. Those other women, they're no
good. It would make you sick to see them try-
ing to be funny. And they're always wanting
everybody to wait on 'em. I tell you I'm tired
of 'em, and so's Zalie, I expect. She'll just be
a slave to them, that's what she'll be, and she'll
never get a good word out of 'em neither. I
wisht she could stay here with your ma. If she
could, then I'd clear out run away and get a
place in a mill or somewhere. I tell you, I
don't like drinking and roaming. It's too much
like being a tramp. Good folks like your pa
and ma don't think nothing of us, I can see
that. And I--I don't like it neither."
He wrinkled up his narrow forehead in a
heavy frown, and Jim frowned back as he tried
to see things the way the boy was seeing them.
NEW FRIENDS 37
He thought the boy very clever, and he knew
that what he said was true about the difference
between people like his father and mother, and
the people like Sisson and his companions.
His mind seemed to go on sudden little jour-
neys, and to show him pictures of the wander-
ing life Hi described, and of his own safe home
life. Then the faces and the language of those
men and women with the show helped him to
understand. He began to feel very sorry for Hi.
" I know a man Rath Rutherford his name
is who's going around the mountain getting
folks to go down and work in the cotton mills
at Lee," he said after a time. " He'd take me
if my folks would let me go, and I reckon he'd
take you if you wanted."
" I never could get away from my uncle
unless I ran away."
" And hid," suggested Jim.
" There ain't nobody to stand by me."
'Yes there is too! I'll stand by you sure
" I ran away once and got caught and lam-
basted for it."
" You wouldn't get caught if I hid you," de-
clared Jim. " Besides, you and me could fight."
They fell to planning what they would do if
they were hidden and the people came to get
them, and they had to fight; or what would hap-
pen if they came across a wildcat or a rattle-
snake. They got very well acquainted, and were
almost ready to start off together to " take care
of themselves," as Hi put it, when a horn was
blown from somewhere far above their heads.
" That's for me," cried Jim. " Come, we
must go," and forgetting all about his plan for
running away, he began scrambling up the rocks
He was really astonished to find that the after-
noon had passed and that the people were cook-
ing supper within and without the house, and
he learned that Elder Mills had preached the
funeral sermon for " poor Mis' Knox " and that
there was a fresh mound of earth beside Molly's
A wonderful golden light lay across the
higher reaches of the mountains, and below, the
valley rested in deep purple shadow. The mar-
tins were snug in their hanging gourds in the
crosstrees, and Jim could hear them making lit-
tle sleepy noises. It seemed so sweet there at
home that he couldn't bear to think of Hi going
NEW FRIENDS 39
on, and when he heard the boy's uncle swearing
at him because he had left some chores undone,
Jim hated Sisson. He thought what fun he and
Hi could have if they were allowed to prowl
about and cook their supper together. Jim
knew how to build a fire, and how to put it out.
His father had taught him to take care of the
woods and to keep them from catching fire.
Now he came to think of it, he knew a great
many things that he would like to teach Hi. But
he had to go in the house to his supper, and he
saw Hi being jerked along roughly by the arm
and heard the angry words his uncle said to him.
Within the house, Azalea was lying on the
settle in his mother's clean kitchen. She looked
small and white-faced, and her large eyes, which
followed Ma McBirney everywhere, were more
than ever like " Job's tears." She came to the
table when Ma McBirney called her, but she
could eat nothing only drink a little of the
warm milk, and her hand trembled so that she
could hardly hold the cup to her lips.
And neither was Ma McBirney eating. Her
face was white, too, and her eyes full of trouble.
Jim knew very well what the matter was. She
couldn't bear to have this nice little girl go
in the company of " bad folks " for that was
how Mary McBirney would call the show peo-
ple. Almost nothing was said while they were
at the table, but when supper was over Pa Mc-
" Me and you'll wash up the dishes to-night,
"Ain't ma well?" Jim asked.
" Ma's well enough, but she's got something
better to do," was all the answer he got. Pa
began washing the dishes, and Jim wondered
why it was that he made such a noise about it.
Jim was told to build up more fire, too, which
seemed strange, for the room was quite warm
enough. But he did as he was told. The door
stood open onto the porch-like room, but no
one could see in unless he came up on the porch,
for the solid wooden window shutters had been
closed. The fire set up a great crackling, and
that and the rattling of the dishes made it seem
as if a great deal was going on there in the
room. But, really, not very much was going on,
for Ma McBirney and Azalea had slipped out
of the back door and had not come back again.
Outside, the voices of the men and the stamping
NEW FRIENDS 41
of the horses could be heard, and by and by
some one called :
" Hulloa there! Hulloa, I say! "
"Hulloa!" answered Jim's father.
" We're ready to go," called the other voice.
" All right," answered Pa McBirney. " I
wish you luck."
One of the show women came up on the
porch and looked in the door.
" We'll take that girl off your hands now,"
she said, " and thank you for your trouble."
" No trouble at all, ma'am," said pa politely.
" A pleasure, ma'am."
" If you'll just tell me where she is," Betty
Bowen went on, looking into the room and see-
ing no one there but Jim and his father, " I'll
go for her."
" It's my impression," said pa slowly, " that
my wife and the girl walked on down the moun-
tain a piece. If you'll follow the road maybe
you'll catch up with 'em. Maybe."
"See here!" said Mrs. Bowen angrily. "I
want that there girl and I want her quick."
" It don't seem as if we did anything very
quick up here," said pa gently. " It's our way
to take our time about things."
The woman looked at pa and her face turned
red. Then she said some things that Jim won-
dered at, and after that she went for the men.
They came storming back, and Sisson wedged
himself in the doorway.
" Where's that girl, McBirney? " he de-
" I don't seem to rightly know," said pa, with
his slowest drawl.
" Where's your old woman, then? "
" Well, I don't know that, neither."
" Where one is, the other is," cried the
woman. " She's stole that girl, that's what she's
" She'd have hard work a-stealing her," ob-
jected Pa McBirney, " when she don't belong to
" You'll find out whether she belongs to any-
one or not," Sisson cried, shaking his fist at pa.
" You can't come it over us that way. We told
you that you couldn't have the girl and we mean
" Well," said pa in his most reasonable voice,
" I hain't took the girl."
" Your wife has, and that's the same thing.
NEW FRIENDS 43
And you'll have to give her up or there'll be
" What my wife does and what I do are two
different things," pa went on teasingly. " I'm
telling you the truth when I say I don't know
where them women folks has gone."
Sisson strode into the room at that, trembling
with rage, and as he did so, in at the rear door
of the room lounged William Sabin, one of the
mountaineers, and behind him Tom Williams
and after him Dick Bab. Jim thought he saw
other forms looming up in the darkness without.
" See here, sonny," whispered Jim's father to
him, " you just kind o' slip out of that there
window above the bench till we get this little
affair settled one way or t'other." And Jim,
seeing that his father meant to be obeyed,
jumped on the wooden bench, loosed the catch
of the board shutter, and crawled out onto the
pile of saplings that was stacked against the outer
wall. He could hear his heart beating, and he
tried not to think what might happen in the next
few minutes. He had heard of quarrels in
mountain cabins that ended in a terrible way.
He wished in the bottom of his heart that those
show people had never come near them, and
that his mother had never seen that girl. He
could hear his father's voice going on in its
pleasant singsong way.
" These here friends of mine," he was saying,
" thought to do a little shooting to-night. We've
been put about by some spit cats hollering at
night, and we thought to get after 'em. But you
mustn't hurry away on that account. There's
lots of time all the time there is and we'll
see you down the mountain a piece if you like."
Jim heard Betty Bowen call:
" Come along, boys. It ain't worth it," and
then he saw Sisson and the others backing out
of the room. They got on their wagons, grumb-
ling and swearing among themselves, while the
mountaineers came out and stood watching
them, the fire gleaming through the door upon
the guns they had brought to hunt the " spit
" Did I understand you to say that you'd like
our company for a piece?" drawled Pa Mc-
Birney as the show people swung their lanterns
beside their wagons and called to their horses
to move on.
" You think you're mighty smart," yelled Sis-
son. " But you wait! Just you wait! "
NEW FRIENDS 45
"Kidnapper!" sneered one of the women.
" And your woman looked too good to be-
lieve, she did."
" There's some mighty sharp turns on the
road," said pa politely. " And maybe me and
my friends had best see you on the way. We've
got some neighbors 'waiting for us a piece on.
I'd best whistle for 'em, I reckon."
But if he whistled, it was not heard for the
noise as the wagons went rattling down the road.
For a long time Jim could hear the sound of
the hoofs and the squeak of the breaks and the
angry voices of the show people.
Meantime, the mountain men had gone back
into the kitchen and lighted their pipes. They
seemed to have but little to say to each other,
and Jim, peeping in at the door, was startled to
see each man lift his gun. But his father roared
at them and they dropped them with smiles.
" I've got to know where ma is," cried Jim,
running to his father. " There ain't any harm
coming to ma, is there? "
" Not as I know of, son. Your ma's a smart
woman and a set one. When she wants to do a
thing she most generally does it."
"But where is she, dad?"
" That's what I can't pre-cisely say, son. All
I know is she didn't mean for to let that purty
little girl go off with them wildcats. She's set
her heart on keeping her in Molly's place, and
we've set our hearts on having her. That's all."
That was quite all. The mountaineers sat so
that they faced the two open doors and the one
open window. They appeared to be enjoying
themselves after their fashion. Jim looked out
at the dark mountain side and the dense forest,
from which a strange whispering as of a thou-
sand voices seemed to come. He knew that wild
creatures lived on that mountain, and that terri-
ble, sudden storms sometimes arose and raged
over it. He knew, too, how the trails crossed
and recrossed each other, and how unfamiliar
they looked in the night. It would be very easy
for his mother to lose her way, for she kept to
the house much more than most of the women
on the mountain. He kept saying to himself
over and over: " I hope she's safe; I hope she's
safe." And aloud he said:
' While we was about it, I wisht we'd a-taken
that there boy. He was a awful smart boy."
" Sho! " said pa. " I wisht we had, too."
" It's only a little way farther now, dear. I'm
sure it's only a little way."
"A little way to where, please ma'am?"
Azalea gasped the question. She was spent with
hard climbing, and her heart pounded in her
side. The steep path before her was dark and
rough. There was only the stars and a small
crescent moon to give them light.
" I wouldn't dare to carry a lantern not to-
night," Ma McBirney had explained. " We'll
have to find our way in the dark this time."
It seemed to Azalea that it was hours since
they began " finding their way." They had
slipped out of the back door of the cabin when
the people were at their supper, had crouched
and crept along the path past the spring house
and taken a trail that ran up to the pine grove.
From there on they had been winding this way
and that, always climbing and climbing till the
pain in the girl's side was almost more than she
could stand. Ma McBirney seemed about
ready to drop too. Azalea could hear her breath
coming almost in sobs. Yet she pushed on, and
when Azalea begged her to rest she would only
say: "In a little while, my dear. In just a
It began to thunder far off, and sheets of
lightning threw a strange pinkish glow over
their path now and then.
" Don't you worry none about that there light-
ning," Ma McBirney said to the girl whose hand
she held so tight in her own that it hurt. " It
will swing off around the mountain, like as not.
Anyway we'll be there before it comes."
"Where, please ma'am?" asked Azalea
again. And again Ma McBirney did not an-
swer, but pressed on along the path.
She seemed now to be walking on the very
rim of a great bench, and Azalea couldn't help
feeling that if the people were looking for them,
they could see them standing out against the sky
when the lightning flashed over the mountain.
Perhaps Ma McBirney feared the same thing.
At any rate, she stooped over almost double as
she walked. She could not hold Azalea's hand
as they crept along this narrow path, but she
IN HIDING 49
told the little girl to hold tight to her skirt. So
they went on in the rising of the wind, their way
lightened by the increasing flashes of lightning.
Fortunately, though, they were walking on
ground that was almost level, and it gave their
pounding hearts a chance to quiet a little.
Then, suddenly, Azalea saw looming up be-
fore her a great mass of rock.
" Here we are! " cried Mrs. McBirney. She
began feeling around in the dark, and then, a
great flash of lightning showed something on
the rock that was blacker than either the night
or the stone.
"Here it is!" she cried. "Here's the way
in!" And the girl, still holding onto that
motherly skirt, crept after Mary McBirney
through an opening in the rock, down three rude
stairs, along a dark, damp place and through
another narrower opening. Ma McBirney
struck a match and lit a little lantern.
" Well," she said. " Here we are! "
Azalea looked about her. Their feet rested
on bare earth, and on every side of them arose
stone walls. From them hung queer, mouse-
like creatures and horrid spiders and long
beetles. Two benches of stone ran along the
side, and a sort of fireplace had been made of
broken pieces of rock, above which a little crack
in the roof served as chimney.
"We ain't the first that has hid here," said
Mrs. McBirney looking around. " And likely
we won't be the last. No one but mountain folk
knows about this place, and they ain't telling.
Make yourself to home Azalea, for this is where
we're going to stay till them friends of yours is
tired of looking for us."
Azalea drew up nearer to the woman and hid
her face against her bosom.
" Why, what's the matter, you little poor
thing?" cried Mrs. McBirney. "You're not
minding a few little bats and spiders, be you?
I'll get them out in no time."
" No, no! " almost shrieked the girl. " Don't
touch them, please! They'll fall down on us!"
" Why, what's this I hear? " demanded ma.
" A girl that's been plumb up against all kinds
of trouble, getting scared at a few little beasties!
You ain't seeming no ways brave to me."
"But thousands of yellow spiders, ma'am!
And hundreds of bats! All above our heads,
too. I hate it! I just hate it."
" If it wasn't for the storm, dear, we'd lie on
IN HIDING 51
the ground outside," said Mrs. McBirney.
" But there, there 1 It's come, you see. We've
got to stay here."
As she spoke the wild downpour of the rain
could be heard, sweeping along over the moun-
tain, and the next instant it was roaring about
them. They could feel the spray of it dashing
in from the outer chamber and here and there
through crevices in the rock above them. They
seemed terribly alone there on that mountain
top in their resounding cavern, and Ma Mc-
'Birney was not surprised that the girl who had
gone through such fearful experiences that day
should throw herself into her arms and weep.
Mary McBirney held her close and soothed her
with soft pattings and caresses. She couldn't
make her voice heard above the storm, but she
knew there were other things besides words with
which she could comfort the poor child. They
were both very tired. Their limbs trembled
from the long, hard climb and from the dread
of the storm, and when Ma McBirney spread
her great circular cape on the ground they were
glad enough to lie down on it. They covered
themselves with it too even their heads, and
after a little while, with the storm still bellow-
ing without, they fell asleep.
Jim and his father heard the uproar and
turned in their beds and shivered. In fact, Jim
couldn't stand it in bed alone, but crept into his
" You reckon ma's hid somewhere out of
this? " Jim asked.
" Sure! " cried pa, drawing Jim into bed be-
side him. " Sure she is. Her and that there girl
is as dry as a bone somewhere, sitting laughing
at all this fuss of rain." But when Jim had
fallen asleep, soothed by these words, Pa Mc-
Birney got up and walked the floor until morn-
ing. Then he cooked Jim's breakfast and his
own, and packed a basket with food.
" We-all will be taking a little stroll," he said.
" Just hand me down my rifle, sonny. Maybe
we might see something we'd like for dinner on
He went out of the back door, bidding Jim
keep close beside him, and looked around for
quite a while before starting on the up trail;
and then he kept away from the wood trail and
took the one that led up the face of the rocks -
one which no one but a mountaineer could find
IN HIDING 53
or follow. His footsteps appeared on the
freshly-washed earth only as far as the spring.
From there on, there was no trace of him and
his boy, and anyone who came looking for them
would indeed have hard work to follow.
" There was talk of them show folks setting
up the merry-go-round and all the rest of the
contraptions down there at Lee to-day," said pa.
" I only hope they'll do it and not go turning
their attention to things that don't concern them."
Once or twice as Jim and his father came out
upon some rocky ledge of the mountain the boy
peered down into the valley to see if he could
catch sight of tents or wagons, but all below them
was wrapped in a wonderful lilac mist. And
anyway, he had not much time to give to these
matters. He was thinking of where his mother
would be found, and wondering how it was that
his father kept such a sure course. Not an idea
of where his mother could be entered the boy's
head, but he knew there were secret hiding
places on the mountains, of which children were
not told, and he was right in thinking that his
mother had gone to one of these.
After a long time he said:
"Where you heading for, pa?"
" Well," said pa, " your ma thought best not
to tell me where she was going. She wanted me
to speak up truthful and say I didn't know her
whereabouts. But it wouldn't take many guesses
for me to locate her in Conscript Den."
"What's that?" asked Jim, staring at his
father with open eyes and mouth.
"Well, that's a place that all the old folks
about here knows of very well. It's been used
by a good many one time and another, but the
first time I know of its being used was when old
Colonel Atherton tried to conscript a lot of
young men down there in Lee, to force 'em to
join the Southern army in 1862. Some of these
here men was for the Union and they didn't take
to the idea of fighting with the South. Any-
way, I don't think they was much interested
either way. They just wanted to be left alone
to work their little farms and be let mind their
own business. But they didn't believe in slavery.
It wasn't in 'em to do that. They was liberty
loving people, and if anything, a little too inde-
pendent in their ways for their own good,
" Think so? " said Jim. He had his own ideas
IN HIDING 55
" So twenty young men that was conscripted
run up here and hid, and slipped down the
mountain nights and got food; and they picked
berries and stoned rabbits and I don't know
what all. But even so they didn't have much
and they was almost skin and bone when the
searchin' party found them."
" And when they found 'em, what did they
Pa seemed not to have heard and walked on
even faster than he had been walking, which was
quite unnecessary, for though Jim could run
along like a squirrel, he was almost out of breath
trying to keep up with his father. Now, how-
ever, he made a dash and caught at his father's
" And what did they do with 'em dad? "
" They took 'em down to Lee, Jim, and stood
'em up in the public square them twenty
young chaps, some of 'em not more than eigh-
teen and their old neighbors faced up there
in double file and shot 'em down."
"What!" cried Jim.
" Had to, boy. Had to! Military law. The
old colonel made 'em."
" But that finished him. He lived down there
in that big shut-up place they call The Shoals.
You know it. It ain't been opened in your day,
but it's a grand old house. Well, after the old
colonel had made the people do the thing I
told you about, the countryside was up and
buzzing like a nest of hornets, and old colonel,
he had to black his face and put on women's
clothes and hike out. And his wife went back
to Alabama where she come from, and nobody
heard of the Athertons any more."
" And are there any folks living at Lee now
that did the shooting? "
Pa McBirney stopped to get his breath, and
he looked about him at the lovely day, at the
shining woods and the down-plunging stream.
Then he dropped on a convenient rock and
motioned Jim to sit beside him.
" I'm a-going to tell you something, Jim," he
said, " that I want you to remember. Us moun-
tain folks has got a bad name in some ways.
Folks say we're shiftless some of us and re-
vengeful. But do you know what the people
down at Lee done after old Colonel Atherton
was run out? They got together and they took
an oath never, no matter what come, to carry on
IN HIDING 57
the story of that dreadful thing. They said they
wouldn't speak of it nor hand it on to their chil-
dren, nor wage war nor nurse hard feelings. So
who done the shooting and who was shot is
something I don't know and don't want to know.
My father knew, and what he knew turned him
old before his time. And I remember hearing
about an older brother, and never was I told
about his end. So maybe your own uncle was
one of them poor martyrs. But it don't matter
now. It's all healed up, like the hole the fire
burned in that there chestnut. It's healed up in
brotherly love, and if you was to go to Lee and
ask any questions about that there rumpus, you'd
get your trouble for your pains. They'd pre-
tend they didn't know what you was talking
about. And the young people, they don't know
any more about it than just that it happened,
and they've married and intermarried, till them
that was forced to be slayers and them that was
slain have their names passed on in the same
family. And I'm proud of it, Jim, and want
you to know it, and to say to folks, when they
hold out that we're a quarrelsome people, that
we're a forgiving people too."
Jim didn't answer. He sat close beside his
father for a while, listening to the gentle sounds
of the forest and the falling water. And then
the two got up and went on.
At length, amid a fine grove of chestnuts, Jim
beheld the same pile of rocks that had loomed
up before the tired eyes of Azalea the night be-
fore, and he followed his father around into a
cranny of them and saw the same doorway she
" Mary," called pa softly. " Mary! Be you
For a moment there was no answer, and then,
as he called again, a frightened voice replied :
" Is it you, Tom? Have you got a light?
My, it's dark here, and we've been sleeping till
Jim could hardly keep from whooping with
delight, and the next moment he and his father
had crept through the first half-open chamber,
into the dark inner one, where ma and Azalea
sat up on the big coat, rubbing their eyes and
blinking at the light from the lantern which
ma had blown out as they lay down to rest the
night before, and which pa had just relighted.
Jim never forgot the strange look of every-
thing: of the cave with its rough walls, of the
IN HIDING 59
bats and spiders and beetles, of his mother, sit-
ting there on the ground, all bewildered and
strange-looking, and of the girl who clung to
her and shuddered.
" Get out of here! Get out of here! " called
Pa McBirney cheerily. " It's a fine day out-
side." And he helped his wife and Azalea to
their feet and led them outside.
"Best not build a fire," he said. "We'll
have to lie low a day or two till them show
folks get out of the way. I cooked the bacon
before I come, and I brought the coffee in a
pail. It was hot when I started, but I reckon
it's cold enough now. But here's plenty of bis-
cuit, and a jar of gooseberry jam, and some of
them star cookies and some hard-boiled eggs
and a few radishes and some cold potatoes -
"My goodness, Thomas!" cried his wife.
" Did you think we had turned into wolves be-
cause we was living in a den?"
" Well you see, Mary, this here will have
to last you all of to-day and perhaps a part of
to-morrow. There's no telling just what will
happen. I might be penned up down there,
with men watching me, and then you'd want
a little stock of stuff laid by."
Jim had moved over toward Azalea, and now
the two stood side by side staring at the older
people. Pa might be penned up, and ma, who
was hiding in a den, might go hungry! Did
such things really happen? Jim turned and
gazed at the girl, and he couldn't help thinking
how pretty she was, with her oval face and her
great gray eyes and her long braids of brown
hair. She looked as if she could run as well as
a boy and ride a horse as well, or maybe better.
Suddenly an idea came to him.
"Say!" he burst out. "You're glad you're
with us, ain't you? You don't wish you'd gone
on with them other folks? "
" Glad ! " said the girl. " Of course I'm glad.
I never want to see them again never, never! ' ?
Her gray eyes turned almost black, and she
straightened her thin little figure till, in Jim's
words, she was like a ramrod.
" Peter! " thought Jim. " I wouldn't like to
get her mad at me." She wouldn't be a good
one to tease, Jim made up his mind. Jim saw
that his mother was watching the girl, too, and
he knew how his mother hated anything like
bad temper and he wondered if she would like
IN HIDING 61
Azalea as well when she saw that she could be
" peppery." But all she said was :
" Azalea, I know a place where there's a
spring of water. Pa's brought us a towel and
some soap and a comb. We'll go down to the
spring and make ready for breakfast." So the
two went off together, and Jim and his father
spread the breakfast out on a sort of table-rock.
Then they sat down to their breakfast, and
whether it was the strangeness of the night and
the wildness of the place and the beauty of the
morning, or whether it was fun in its way, being
outlaws and in hiding, who can say? But as
the meal went on they began to laugh and talk
as they seldom did even when there was com-
pany; and Azalea couldn't keep from laughing
either. There was something hushed and sad
about her face, and when she spoke, her voice
had a break in it, for her terrible sorrow lay
heavily upon her heart. Yet, as she had said to
Ma McBirney the night before, she had known
for a long time that her mother could not live,
and she had thought how, after her mother was
gone, she herself must go on, taking the rough
treatment the show men had given her, and rid-
ing bareback on those poor thin horses, and
doing tricks for people who called out horrible
things to her. Now she felt safe, and even there
in that wild place, more at home perhaps than
she ever had felt before in her life.
After a time Jim and his father went away,
but not before they had gone in the cave and
killed or driven out every creature in it. They
made a sort of broom right on the spot before
Azalea's astonished eyes, and brushed the place
and cleaned it; and pa pried back a big stone on
top and let the sunlight in. And then he asked
ma how she was going to put in her time.
"Just sitting still," said ma.
" I never saw you sit still yet, Mary," said
pa. " I don't believe you can do it."
" Yes I can, Thomas. Don't you worry. I
can sit and sit and I'm going to. It's years since
I've had a quiet spell and it looks like this was
my time to take it."
" Seeing's believing," said pa. And laughing
and telling ma not to worry about anything, he
and Jim turned down the trail.
" Let's get nearer the waterfall," said ma to
Azalea. So they went to a place where a great
flat rock ran out into the mountain stream, and
here they sat with the water tossing and leaping
IN HIDING 63
past them and hurling itself over the side of the
mountain. Ma lay down and put her hands
under her head and looked straight up through
the branches of an overhanging beech, into the
soft blue sky. And Azalea pillowed her head
on her arm and lay there too. A long time
passed and neither spoke. It was enough to
listen to the voices of the mountain, to watch
the sailing of the clouds and the winging of the
birds. But after a time ma reached out and
touched Azalea gently.
"Little girl," she said, "little daughter!"
" I've been a-thinking and a-thinking, and it
seems to me it's a queer world."
" Yes'm, it is," said Azalea as if she too had
settled that fact in her mind.
" Some things that seem wrong is right, and
some that everybody or almost everybody
says is right, is really, when you come down to
it, plumb wrong."
" I reckon that's so, ma'am."
"Now, me taking you in the way I did
grabbing you away from the folks you'd known
and been with that might look wrong. But it
ain't, Azalea, it aint! You want to know how
I know it ain't wrong? "
" If you please, ma'am."
" Well, first of all I reasoned it out. You
was better in a house than on the road. You
was better living where you could go to school
than where you'd slave for people who'd give
you no education. You was better with people
who'd take you to church and read the Script-
ures to you than with people who'd swear and
curse and drink and gamble. And most of all,
you was better with them that would love and
cherish you than with them that would just use
you, and perhaps bring you to some harm and
turn you off when they got through with you."
"Oh, yes'm! I know, ma'am. I'm thank-
" I don't want you bothering to be thankful,
Azalea. I just want you to be loving. But I
haven't said what I wanted to say. It ain't
reason that tells me I've done right. It's some-
There was a little pause, and then she went
" It's something I wouldn't like to speak of to
everyone, Azalea. But you see, you're going to
IN HIDING 65
take Molly's place with me, and I'm going to
begin right away treating you as if you was
" Thank you, ma'am."
"Well, now this thing it's like a little bird
singing in my heart. Ever since I was a little
girl, times would come when that little bird
would begin singing. Maybe 'twould be a
pretty day and me down washing clothes at the
spring; maybe 'twould be something preacher
said in church; maybe 'twould be Jimmy shout-
ing and hollering out in the woods, or his pa
coming up the trail and letting out a yell to tell
me he was on the way. But when the bird sang
best, dear, was when I'd done something that
I knew I ought to do and that it was hard to do.
Now it was hard for me to take you away from
those folks, for I don't like to run counter to no
one. I like friends and I hate foes, and I had to
make foes of them people. But they wouldn't
listen to what was right and reasonable, and I
had to do the way I done. But all last night
when we was climbing the trail in the dark, and
when the storm got us, and when we lay in that
filthy den, and most of all this morning when I
woke up and found you there beside me, the bird
was singing in my heart. It sings sweeter than
any of these here birds round about, though
they sing sweet enough, goodness knows. But
it's just as if something new was come into
the world it's just as it was the day Jimmy
was born and lay on my arm and I knew I had
a little son of my own. Why, it's just the way
it was the day I found I had a Saviour, and
learned that the love of my Heavenly Father
was round about me, and that I could walk in
it and fear nothing. Did you ever feel like that,
The girl turned her great eyes on her.
" No'm, I don't think I ever did."
' Well, you will, Azalea, you will ! I'm go-
ing to tell you all about that. I'm going to tell
you every good thing I know. And you must
tell me all you know, too, for I'm an unschooled
woman, who's worked hard and not seen much.
But anyway, even for me, I can see that life has
trails that lead up the mountain. Don't you like
to be here on the mountain top, child? "
" Oh, I do, ma'am. I think it's the most
beautiful place I ever did see! "
" Well, and I was studying about your poor
IN HIDING 67
ma. Just think, to-day whatever there is to
know over beyond life, she's knowing. She was
brave, wasn't she, and kind? "
" Yes'm, Oh, yes'm good to folks and ani-
mals and everything."
" And it will be counted to her. It's just got
to be. She's happy and safe to-day; but maybe
she wouldn't have been happy if she couldn't
have known you was safe, too, Azalea."
" Do you think she knows, ma'am? "
" I think she knows! I can't sit here en this
mountain top and see them birds winging along
and hear the wind blowing and the water sing-
ing and have the little bird singing away in my
heart and not think she knows. Someway, it's
like two and two. When you add them they
make four. I can't explain what I mean, but
I'm trusting, Azalea, and I'm happy."
Her thin face shone with a beautiful light,
and the eyes she turned on Azalea were full of
lovely tears. The girl crept a little closer to
her on the broad rock. The long day passed in
silence, to the humming of bees, to the shifting
of shadows, to the call of birds. They watched
the sun set and the stars rise. They felt the dew
fall on their hands, and saw the blackness drop
like soft veils. Again they crept into their den,
this time quite without fear, and slept in each
It was about sundown and Pa McBirney and
Jim were sitting on the porch of their cabin,
feeling lonesome and deserted, when Dick Bab,
a bachelor who had a house about halfway be-
tween the McBirney house and the foot of the
mountain, came driving up on his yellow mule.
He grinned when he saw the two sitting there,
" Listening to the whippoorwills? " he asked
" Nope," said Pa McBirney shortly.
" Had your supper? "
" Such as it was."
" Suppose you wouldn't have minded a little
set-to with them there show folks, would ye?"
" Well, if they'd come, I reckon we-all
wouldn't have run away.
" Well, the neighbors thought I'd better ride
up and let you know that there won't be nothing
doing. They was all hanging around looking
for a little amusement too. In fact so many of
them came down to see what kind of a lay-out
them folks had, that the show raked in a good
deal of money more than they've had for a
long time, to all appearances. Then Elder
Mills, he spoke up and said he reckoned they'd
made a pretty good thing out of this commu-
nity and the best they could do was to be
a-moving on. He said so emphatic. And the
others spoke up and said they thought so too.
So that's the last any of us will see of that outnt.
They've packed up bag and baggage, and if they
had any idea of coming up here and making
trouble for you they concealed it mighty well.
So your missus may as well come out of hiding
and enjoy the comforts of her own rooftree."
"They didn't show much spirit, did they?"
asked pa in rather a disappointed voice.
" Not much. But if they'd showed more you
might have been punctured full of holes by this
time. I reckon it's better for your health the
way it is."
"Like as not; like as not," said pa. "You
'light, Dick, and spend the night. Me and Jim's
bunking together, so you can sleep in Jim's bed."
" I reckon you-all are wanting ma," said
NEW CLOTHES 71
Dick. And this time pa showed no resentment.
" I reckon we be," he admitted.
So, the next day, about noon, down the steep
trail walked Pa McBirney with a forked stick
in his hand. Behind him came ma, who had
had enough of " sitting " and was ready to go
to work again. After her came Azalea, whose
feet seemed fairly to touch the rocks and bound
off again, and whose little head turned this way
and that with a birdlike way of trying to see and
hear all that there was to be seen and heard.
Last of all came Jim, his arms full of laurel
" Well," said ma, looking in at the door of the
cabin, " If this here place don't look like a hurri-
cane'd struck it! Azalea, you and me'll have to
straighten things up. We can change our
dresses and freshen up afterward."
" Being a girl's hard luck," thought Jim.
" Me and pa can sit on the front porch I reckon,
while the women folks tidy." But he was mis-
" Here you, Jim," called his mother in her
most businesslike tones, " bring up fresh water
from the spring. Pa, I'd like some more wood,
please. Azalea, you can be sweeping out. I'll
get over hot water for the dishes. I thought
you promised me, pa, that you'd keep the dishes
" Didn't I do it then? " said pa despairingly.
" I washed and washed and Jim wiped and
wiped till we about dropped."
" You drop pretty easy," answered ma. But
she was not scolding. Ma didn't waste much
time in scolding. There was always a laugh be-
hind her words when she said a thing like that.
Jim felt a little cast down. And he wondered
if the new girl would think they had to work
like that all the time. He looked at her to see
how she was taking it, and he found her sweep-
ing with all of her might. True, his mother
had to show her how to hold the broom in the
right way, and how long to take her strokes, but
she seemed to think it was fine to be able to
sweep out, and it came over Jim that up to now
she probably hadn't had a house to sweep, and
no doubt she liked it.
But all the work seemed worth while when,
at last, they sat down at the table together. Ma
had chopped up some salt pork in beaten eggs,
and had baked some potatoes in the ashes, and
made biscuit and a custard pie. And pa had
NEW CLOTHES 73
brought in some fresh radishes and mountain
honey; so there was a real feast for them.
" This is lots better than a cave," Azalea said
shyly. " It's lots better than the road too." She
was looking very odd in a dress of ma's, which
was worlds too wide for her, and which they
had tied in with an old blue ribbon. Her pretty,
birdlike little head came up out of all this cotton
stuff like the head of a frightened chicken out
of its ruffled feathers.
" We've got to get right down to the store,
Azalea," said ma briskly, " and buy some stuff
to sew up for you. I can't endure to have you
looking that a-way."
" Why, ma, couldn't Molly's clothes be fixed
up to fit Azalea? There might be some chang-
ing to do, but you're so handy you could manage
" I ain't got a stitch of Molly's clothes left,"
said ma rather sharply. " What do you think
I'd be doing? Letting them there good things
lie idle when they was needed by others? Molly
wouldn't have liked me to do a thing like that,
would she? I gave them all away."
" Well, they would have come in handy now,
ma. Sometimes I think you're too impulsive.
You just go and do whatever comes into your
head to do right off quick."
" So I do, Thomas; so I do. Soon as I laid
eyes on you I knew you was the man I wanted
to live with for the rest of my natural life, and
when you asked me to marry you it didn't take
me a quarter of a second to say yes. Soon as I
saw Jimmy there, I knew he was the baby for
me. Of course he really was mine, and I'd 'a'
had to put up with him even if I hadn't liked
the kind he was; but it turned out he was the
kind to suit me. It was just the same with
Azalea there. The minute I laid eyes on her, I
yearned over her, and I can tell just as well as
if it was proved to me, that she's going to be a
comfort to all of us. Yes, I'm that way, Thomas,
mighty impulsive and quick-acting. Now, I've
just made up my mind that to-morrow we'll all
go down to Lee together and get what we want
for Azalea and show the folks what a united
family we be."
" You don't want to go flaunting Azalea in
the faces of folks, do you, ma? " pa protested.
" Well, I don't know as I'd use the word
' flaunting/ pa, if I was in your place. The
folks will be just crazy to see what she's like,
NEW CLOTHES 75
and after the stand they took, hustling them show
people out of the way and all, and maybe saving
your life by doing it, I think the least we can do
is to let them see that the girl was worth all the
trouble they took."
" Like as not; like as not! " agreed pa.
That ma had other things on her mind was
very certain. She went poking over chests and
drawers, searching for something, and at last
she came on some undyed homespun cotton of
her own weaving. She sat for several minutes
with this on her knees, looking at it. At last she
called Azalea to her.
" I've half a mind to use that there blue dye
Mis' Leiter brought over, to color this here, so's
I can run up a dress for you, Azalea. I can't
have you go down to town looking like a scare-
crow, and I 'clare to goodness, I'm prejudiced
against having you go down in that outgrown
dress you had on when I saw you first. Why,
your arms and legs stuck out like the turkey legs
on a platter. It ain't fitten for you to go that
" It does seem like you have to go to an awful
lot of trouble for me, ma'am," murmured the
girl. " And anyway, you couldn't get that done
Ma muttered something to herself which
Azalea could not catch, and the next minute
Mrs. McBirney was away down to the spring,
building a fire, putting over a pot, and showing
that she was in for what Jim called " one of her
" When ma has a spell of work," he told
Azalea, " nothing in this world can stop her."
It couldn't have been more than an hour later
that the good, well-made stuff, dyed a rich, dark
blue, was whipping on the line in the wind. An
hour after that it was pressed and ready to be
cut out; and before Azalea could realize what
had happened, ma was fitting the waist of a new
dress to her.
" I always had a knack of snipping things
out," she told Azalea, " and since I bought that
there sewing machine with my egg money, I
can run a thing up in no time. As luck will
have it, I've got some crocheted edging that
will look well on the neck and sleeves."
A minute later she broke out:
" See here, Azalea, you don't want hot, tight
sleeves coming down to your wrist, like you was
NEW CLOTHES 77
an old woman! I keep my eyes peeled when I
go down to Lee, and I notice them girls at the
hotel wears their sleeves about up to their
elbows. I don't say you want yours hiked up
quite that high, but we'll have them somewheres
betwixt and between, shan't we? "
Azalea nodded. She had little to say. She
was letting all the comfort of being there soak
into her as rain soaks into the thirsty earth.
" And then as to collars! " broke in ma. " I
can't bear to see a girl with a nice, round little
throat, all choked up in a collar. I'll cut this
neck out a little, to give you a chance to crook
your neck around like a young owl and look at
And then the machine raced along over the
seams and hems, and the scissors snipped at raw
edges, and ma's needle flew in and out. It was
left to Azalea and Jim to get supper, which they
did well enough.
" It'll give you a chance to learn where every-
thing is," said ma. " Jim, you show her the
spring house and the dishes and everything."
The little girl had cooked over a camp fire
more than once, but she had never before set
what Ma McBirney called " a nice table."
However, she soon found out the way that the
McBirneys wanted things done, and meantime
ma sewed on, faster and faster. Her hair got
roughed from sitting in the wind, her hands were
nervous and her eyes too bright, but she had set
her mind on doing that particular thing and
nothing that anyone could say to her would
stop her. She was at the buttonholes when the
rest of the family crept into bed.
" Don't you do any worrying about me," she
bade them. " I'm better satisfied than I ever
thought to be again."
So they slept Azalea on a little ' knock-
down ' that would have to serve till a place had
been properly provided for her and when
morning came, on the chair lay the blue frock
with its handmade edging, as simple and charm-
ing a little gown as any girl in the country
would care to wear. Moreover, some faded
ribbons had been dyed, and looked almost like
new. And there w r as clean underclothing
not quite the right size, to be sure and the old
shoes had been polished and made to look fit.
But if Azalea thought that everything was to
be done for her, and that she was to do nothing
in return, she soon found out that she was wrong.
NEW CLOTHES 79
Probably no such idea occurred to her, for she
was born with a loving heart, and she had
learned to serve. She was not surprised, there-
fore, when she found that all of the family got
up early and worked hard. There were the ani-
mals to feed, the house to tidy, the water to
bring, the plants to water, the garden to weed.
Nobody hurried, exactly, but ma was not fond
of " lazy bones," and she kept everyone going
till all was as it should be. She advised pa to
drive the calf down to the butcher, and she had
a basket of eggs to get ready.
But at last all was done, and pa, with Jim
beside him, sat on the front seat of the wi. r on,
and ma and Azalea sat in the back seat, all
clean and fine, ready to drive down the moun-
tain. The little calf was tied on behind. The
hounds had been shut up, and only the cat saw
them off. The chickens and guinea hens and
turkeys could be heard away up in the brush,
but they concerned themselves very little with
the comings and goings of anyone. The mar-
tins were flying in and out of the high-swung
gourds, but they seemed to care as little as the
ground fowl. Neither did the little old house,
basking there in the sun, seem to mind. And
the graves there, under the Pride of India trees
they minded not at all.
So by steep and pleasant ways, underneath the
chestnuts and the hemlocks, the oaks and the
mulberries, the tulip trees and the poplars, the
McBirneys, four in number, went winding on
down, down the road toward Lee.
They had not been an hour on their way be-
fore something curious happened. There was a
rushing in the bushes beside the road which
startled the horses and made Thomas McBirney
take the whip out of its socket to be ready for
anything that might arise. And the queer part
of it was that the creature that was making the
noise, was running along, trying to keep pace
with the wagon.
" If it was one of the hounds broken loose, it
would set up a cry," said pa. " And it ain't
leaping and jumping like an animal, nohow."
Azalea's heart beat hard. She thought that
perhaps it was, after all, a wild animal, and that
maybe they would be attacked. She was used
to being on the road, but this part of the Blue
Ridge was wilder than that through which she
usually had traveled. However, there was not
much time in which to be frightened, for before
NEW CLOTHES 81
any one could realize what was happening, Jim
had leaped over the wagon wheel and plunged
into the bushes.
" Hold on there, boy," yelled his father.
" You don't know what you'll be running into."
A shout of laughter reached him.
"Well, I'll be lammed!" cried Jim. "I'll
be shingled, if it ain't Hi! "
"High!" cried pa. "How high? What
high? What you talking about, son? "
" Oh, it's Hi! it's Hi! " Azalea chorused, and
in a flash she too was over the wagon wheel and
in the brush.
Pa turned an angry face around on his wife.
" Be them two children crazy? " he de-
At that moment three children instead of two
shot their heads up above the dark green of the
wild gooseberry bushes. There was Jim's
freckled, grinning phiz, Azalea's long, lovely
face, smiling, too, and the dark, odd little face
of the show boy, Hi Kitchell.
" Well, what do you think of that? " groaned
" He sneaked, pa," Jim explained at the top
of his voice. " When them show folks lit out,
he just sneaked. Wasn't he the 'cute one? "
" Goodness, ma, are we going to start an
orphan asylum?" pa asked under his breath.
" Might do worse," answered ma.
But Hi was not an orphan, but a young man
out for himself, and after he had got into the
wagon with the others and all were rolling once
more toward Lee, he made that plain.
" I went straight to Mr. Hitchcock at the
mill," said he, " and told him I wanted to go to
work. He said he'd take me on next Monday.
Well, that was all right, only I didn't have a
cent in my pocket, but I someway didn't like to
fell him that. So I went down town, looking
around, and the funniest thing you ever heard
of, happened to me."
" What? " demanded the other four at once.
" Well, there was a gentleman come riding in
on horseback, and he had a little dog with him,
a terrier. He was an awful cute little dog, and
when the man went in the post office, I got to
playing with him. The puppy didn't know a
trick not a trick. Just plain ignorant, he was.
The man was in the office a long time, so I got
to teaching that dog some of the things he ought
NEW CLOTHES 83
to know, and by and by the man come out and
he see me, and he said I was giving that there
dog the kind of schooling he ought to have."
"Sho!" said pa.
" Then he up and asked me where I lived and
whose boy I was, and I told him the whole
" That was right," said ma gently. " That
was just what you ought to do, Hi."
" And that gentleman said if I wanted I could
come up to his house and sleep in the barn, and
have my meals at the house till I got my first pay
from the mill, all for teaching his dog tricks. So
I went up and I've been staying there."
" You don't seem to be there now," broke in
pa. " Not so's you could notice it."
" Why," cried the boy, " I had to come and
tell you-all, didn't I? I thought you-all would
be wanting to know."
" We do; sure we do," ma said, reaching for-
ward to pat the boy on the shoulder. " Pa's just
as glad as any one, Hi. Don't you let him fool
you, the way he speaks."
" I don't see no especial reason for rejoicing
that a poor little boy is going to be shut up in
that mill," growled pa. " Hain't I heard the
whistles blowing at five, dark mornings and all,
rousting them young uns out of bed? And ain't
I seen 'em trudging home after dark come? All
the day gone by, and no good to them ! No, you
don't get no celebration out of me over any child
or chick getting in that there mill! "
" Now, please sir," broke in Hi, in a kind of
free way he had, " don't you worry about me
none. I'm going in that mill, but I ain't going
to stay there not unless I like it mighty well.
I'm going to get on, if I can. I want to get back
to my ma, or to have my ma and the kids come
here. But I'm done with that there show and
that Weary Willie way of living. I ain't going
to trouble you none, don't you think it. I won't
even come up to the house if you don't want me
to. But I'm thankful to you for what you've
done for Zalie, and for what you done for her
poor ma, and it just come natural to tell you
how I was getting on."
" What made you run along in them there
bushes the way you did?" asked pa. "Why
didn't you come out fair and square and holler
at us and let us know who you was? Why, you
like to scared my horses."
NEW CLOTHES 85
Hi was usually ready with an answer, but now
" Can't you speak? " demanded pa.
" Tell us, Hi," said ma gently.
" It was just that I wanted to see you-all rid-
ing along, with Zalie setting up there like she'd
been born in the family," Hi explained, blush-
ing. " It done me good to think that there she
was, with nice people like you, and her every-
body's slave a day or two ago. I hadn't ought
to have done it, I know. But honest, I've got
in some sort of sneaking way, having always to
dodge and hide and yarn to get on and have any
Pa turned on Hi almost fiercely.
" See here, you," he said, " don't you do no
more hiding, nor sneaking, nor fibbing. We-all
are friends to you, understand? You come up
to we-all's house like it was your own. Stick in
the mill a while. It won't hurt you. Mr.
Hitchcock's a good man good's he can be, I
reckon. You spend your Sundays with us. You
can meet us at church and ride up with us. Ma,
what's happening to that there fool calf? Acts
like he knowed he was going to be slaughtered,
don't he? Poor little critter! Say, ma, you do
the trading to-day you and Azalea. Me and
Hi and Jim will walk over to the mill and have
a little talk. I want them overseers to know the
boy's got his friends."
It was really pa's way of getting out of facing
his curious neighbors at the stores. But ma felt
no such timidity. Her heart swelled with pride
as Azalea leaped, light as a kitten, from the
wagon and turned to help Mrs. McBirney down.
Ma nodded right and left to the people gathered
to do their Saturday " trading," and she intro-
duced Azalea, in her gentle, singing voice, to the
women and girls who came up to meet her.
" This is my girl," she would say. " Azalea
McBirney. Come, Azalea, let's go in and see if
they have something that'll do for the makings
of a dress. How'd you like a green gingham
pale green you know? And that there white
barred stuff ain't but fifteen cents a yard. How
d'ye do, Mr. Constance? Pretty day, ain't it?
Do you reckon you could take these here eggs
and let me do a little trading with you? Yes,
this is the girl. You can call her my girl, when
/ou're speaking of her. I'd like to get her out-
NEW CLOTHES 87
fitted here at your place if you'd be so kind, Mr.
Azalea stood facing her new world, so to
speak, and on every face she saw welcome.
"Jim," cried Azalea, "my room's done at
last. Come see it, quick! "
" I've looked at that room and looked at it. I
don't believe it's any different from what it was
"James Stuart McBirney, it is too! Ma's
hung a blue curtain over the place where my
clothes hang, and she's got a braided rug on the
floor and a cheesecloth curtain at the window,
and she's covered my stand with blue and white
print. The way she's fixed up those cones and
pine leaves, you'd never know the looking glass
was broke. It's the prettiest room I ever saw.
Oh, Jim, do come! "
Jim pretended that he wasn't interested, and
stamped up the new stairs his father had built,
and along the platform which led to the attic
room which had been given Azalea for her own.
Although Jim was supposed not to care anything
about the room, he had, nevertheless, braided a
THE SHOALS 89
hammock of warp such as his mother used on
her loom, and this hammock had been swung
out on the platform. Azalea could lie there and
look straight up the mountain side. Jim had
helped, too, with the making of the bedstead and
the splint-bottomed chairs and the dresser, and
in the bottom of his heart he thought it was just
the kind of a room Azalea ought to have she
was so pretty and well, Jim couldn't quite
find the word to describe her but she re-
minded him of a pinky-white trillium. Not that
he would have said so. He treated her just as
if she had been his own sister, and that means
that he led her rather a hard life at times. But
that didn't seem to bother Azalea at all. She
would do anything for him, and she could tease
back when she had a mind to, and when he " got
her in a corner," as he put it, she laughed her
" Some girls would get mad to be treated the
way Jim treats Azalea," ma used to say. " But
she's got the sweetest disposition of anybody I
" Not too sweet to hold her own," answered
Thomas McBirney. " At first I thought to my-
self, I'll have to pitch in and take that girl's part,
but after a time I says to myself, I reckon I'll
leave them two young uns to take care of their-
They used to buy each other to do things, by
promising to tell stories. If Jim wanted Azalea
to help him gather firewood, he offered to tell
her a story in payment for her help. If Azalea
wanted Jim to help her scrub the floor, she
promised him a story of things that had hap-
pened to her when she was " on the road." One
day Jim told Azalea the story his father had
told him that day on the mountain, about the old
Atherton mansion, and how it had stood vacant
for years and years, with the swallows flying in
and out its chimneys, and the snakes and squir-
rels and birds having their way with it.
" There's snakes in the grass and bats in the
porches and wild doves in the barn," said Jim.
" A boy I know told me about it. He says you
can't count the squirrels and the catbirds and
the robins and the thrushes. Some think it's
haunted, but I don't reckon there's much in that
story. I'm not long on ghosts."
" It might have a ghost," said Azalea wist-
fully. " Anyway, I'd like to see it the house,
I mean. Oh, Jimmy, I'd just love to see it!
THE SHOALS 91
Let's ask ma if we-all can't go picnicking down
Ma was doubtful. She said she'd fooled
away altogether too much time lately that
she'd never been so lazy. But at this her whole
family laughed so, for they almost never caught
her for a moment idle, that she gave in and
agreed to go the next Saturday.
" Pa'll be driving to town, and we-all will go
along. We can get out at the Old Green Place
and cut off across to the Atherton Place and eat
our lunch there, and then pa, he can meet us at
the Green Place again on the way home.
" The road to town used to run by the Ather-
ton house," pa said. " But it did seem as if it
picked up every hill in the whole county, and
now that the road ain't been taken care of for a
dozen years, it's just a pesky lot of sink holes.
Why, it's as much as a horse's life is worth to
take it over that there road."
Saturday morning came with the bluest of
skies. Little soft white clouds floated over it
like happy ships on a sea; and the wind was
playful, too, and the sunshine friendly. The
four got off very early and rattled down the
mountain side in a manner te take the breath
away from anyone who had not perfect confi-
dence in Pa McBirney's driving.
At last the " Old Green Place " was reached,
and ma prepared to get out with the children.
But pa objected.
" See here, I don't think this is a fair deal,
ma," he said. " Me going off all by myself,
eating my lunch alone in this tarnation old
wagon, and you three picnicking! You come
along with me, ma. I'm not fit to do trading by
myself. You know you've often said that."
Ma made a face at him, for she knew he had
her there, but she really did think it rather dull
for pa to drive on alone seven miles to town, and
so, after she had made the children promise that
they would be careful about this, that and the
other thing, and be at the Green Place in the
middle of the afternoon, she went on to Lee
The two children turned their faces down an
unknown road, overhung with great chestnuts
and lindens, and cut into deep gulleys by the
rains. The way looked lonely and beautiful and
strange and Azalea felt her heart beating a little
faster than usual. She was just going to say to
"She ran out to meet me," he cried.
THE SHOALS 93
Jim that they'd probably get lost, when some-
thing ran swiftly across their path.
"An adder!" cried Jim. a A gray adder!
That's the poisonest snake that lives anywhere
here about. Don't you go fooling with snakes
like that, Zalie, whatever you do. Why, once I
teased a gray adder till he got so mad he bit
himself. And in three minutes he was dead."
" Honest? "
" Honest! You say you're sorry for snakes
I like 'em to kill! but don't you fool none
around an adder."
" You didn't try to kill that one."
" Well, if I hadn't been going for a good time,
I would. Somehow, when I'm going out for a
good time, I don't like to begin by killing some-
Azalea laughed lightly, and the two went on
along the shady road. Twice they crossed
creeks amber-colored, rippling streams that
sang over the stones. One they jumped across ;
the other was too wide for that, but they found
a narrow swinging bridge a little way upstream.
" Don't it seem strange to think that there used
to be people and people going along here,"
mused Azalea, " and now almost no one comes
Jim nodded. He hadn't much time to think
about things like that. He was wondering what
he would find at the Atherton house.
After a time they came to a sunny piece of
road, and along the side a clay bank punctured
with little holes.
" Oh, doodle bug holes ! " cried Jim. " Come,
let's get the doodle bugs out." So the two chil-
dren got down on their knees and blew into the
holes where the bugs lived and called three
" Doodle bug, come out of your hole! "
And the doodle bugs cime out politely, and
ran about this way and that as if looking for the
person who had called them.
" I spose we're too large for them to see," said
They had been told to keep their lunch until
noon, but they felt so hungry at least Jim did
- that they decided to eat it at once. So they
got out the cold biscuit spread with honey and
the bottle of milk and the cornbread sandwiches
with the bacon between and ate it all. Not a
scrap did they leave. Then they took a long
drink of spring water and started on again.
THE SHOALS 95
" It's about ten o'clock," said Azalea. " By
noon we'll be hungry again, and by four o'clock
we'll be starved to death. Pa and ma will come
along and find two heaps of bones at the Old
Green Place, and they'll never know it's us, and
they'll go up the mountain weeping and gnash-
ing their teeth."
Jim looked at her admiringly.
" I don't see how you think of so many things
to say, Zalie. I can't think of things to say."
" Then take me along with you wherever you
" All right," said he.
At last they got in sight of the Atherton estate.
Tim saw it first.
" Look there! Look there! " he cried. " Did
you ever see such hedges? "
They ran through the trees, then along beside
the great hedge as far as the gateway.
" Why, the gates are open, ain't they, Jim? "
" Say, they are! Now what do you think of
that? Zalie, there's smoke coming out of the
kitchen chimney and the grass is cut. And,
look there, a man is painting the house."
" There's folks living there, Jim. Maybe it's
ghosts like I said."
" No it ain't. I smell the paint. And that's
old man Hendricks doing that painting. It
wouldn't be right to holler to him, would it,
" The folks might hear you. It's queer pa
didn't know folks had moved in."
" Well, pa ain't been to town for three weeks,
and anyway, he might not come on anybody that
would tell him. Lots of rich folks comes to
Lee now. They come down there because they
think it's pretty. That don't seem much of a
reason for coming to a place, does it? "
" Well, I reckon that's why your pa and ma
stopped away up on Tennyson mountain, Jim.
It ain't no way convenient to anything just
way off by itself. If it wasn't thafrthey stopped
on account of prettiness, what was it? "
" Pshaw! Pa wouldn't stop nowhere for
" I'll bet he would! I'll just bet he would."
" I guess I know pa better than you do, Zalie.
I've known him years, and you've known him
" It ain't the length of time you know a person
that counts, Jim. It's the looking in at their
hearts and the understanding of them."
THE SHOALS 97
" You think you're pretty smart, don't you?
Knowing my pa better than I know him! "
" Oh, Jim, see! A girl!"
Their little pretense at quarreling for it
was only a pretense was stopped by the ap-
pearance of a little girl on the portico of the
She looked quite small to them at first, stand-
ing among the great pillars that ran up the front
of the house, but as she walked on down the old
brick walk toward the gateway, they saw that
she was almost as tall as Azalea, and quite a
little heavier. She was all russet brown hair,
eyes, frock, stockings and shoes, and in her arms
she carried a little silky dog with long ears and
wistful, bulging eyes.
" We ought to go away," whispered Azalea.
" We've no business to stand staring in at other
folks's yards like this. It ain't polite."
But though she said this, she did not move an
inch, and as for Jim, he stood with his mouth
open, watching that girl dance down the long
brick walk between the box hedges.
Suddenly she saw the children and stopped.
Her eyes rested on Jim a moment and she seemed
to smile at his kind, freckled, jolly phiz. Then
9 8 AZALEA
she saw Azalea and the look in her face changed
to one of deeper interest. Azalea, standing
slender and straight there in her clean blue
frock, with her gray eyes shining and her long
hair beautifully braided, certainly was good to
look at. So the girl came on, not dancing now,
but hastening along as if bent on business.
" How do you do? " she said sweetly, blushing
a little with shyness.
" I'm very well, thank you," said Azalea.
" How are you? "
Jim made a noise in his throat to show that he
meant well, but no one could tell what words he
was trying to say.
"Do you live near here?" the little girl in-
Jim pointed over his shoulder.
" We come from up mountain."
"You're not brother and sister!" exclaimed
Jim wondered what Azalea would say. He
was very proud of her. She seemed to him like
a humming bird that had come to live among
wrens, and he wondered if she would be
ashamed of him? He was a happy boy, who
wasted no time in thinking about uncomfortable
THE SHOALS 99
things, but now, suddenly it came over him that
he was rather a stupid chap, with trousers that
were too long for him, and a waist that was too
short in the sleeves, and bare feet and a freckled
face. Azalea's clothes were new, and anyway,
his mother knew much more about dressing
girls than she did about dressing boys. And
then no matter how he dressed or how he tried
he never could look like Azalea!
She was speaking now, and he put aside his
thoughts to listen.
"Jim's father and mother took me in," she
was saying softly, " and they treat me like I was
their own.v My mother died just a little while
ago, and my father w r ell, I never saw him at
all and now I say my name is McBirney, just
like Jim's. He's James Stuart McBirney. I'm
Azalea they let me be called Azalea Mc-
It was beautifully done lovingly done. Her
pleasant voice caressed the words, her gratitude
put a little dew into her eyes. The other girl
stood listening and looking and " Oh! " she said.
Then she looked at Jim and smiled and said
" Oh," once more. And after that she mur-
mured, "Azalea! How pretty! My name is
Carin Carson, and we've just moved here. I
don't know anyone and I'm dreadfully lone-
some. Couldn't you come in and play for a little
" Thank you," said Azalea, " I s'pose we
could. We really came down here to see this
house, but we didn't know anyone was living in
it. We thought it would be such fun to see a
house that no one had lived in for years and
"Did you? Why, so did I. And so did papa
and mamma. It's a beautiful old house, isn't it?
We find something new about it almost every
hour. Why, this morning what do you think we
The children shook their heads.
" A secret staircase! Yes, we did. It runs up
from a sitting room in that far wing to a bed-
room above. There's no door you can see
only panels that slide in the wainscoting. It's
more fun! Wouldn't you like to see it? "
" I'd just love to see it. But your ma would
she like us to come in? I don't believe I'd like
to come in unless your ma said we might."
" Well, you are particular," laughed Carin.
" You must have been very strictly brought up.
THE SHOALS 101
I'll go ask my mamma, if you'll wait a minute.
Come in and sit on this bench."
And without waiting to see them seated under
the wide-branching plane tree, she sped away
up the walk. Azalea looked after her rather
gloomily. What would this nice girl say if she
knew that Azalea had been brought up with a
traveling show a miserable show, with coarse,
profane men and women in it? And then she
remembered, how, though her mother was one
of them, and always seemed to want to stay with
them and was frightened if any people from the
towns tried -to know her, yet her mother had
been different from the others. And coarse and
mean as the show people had been, they were
nevertheless afraid of what she would think of
them, in a way; and Azalea knew that no unkind
or unlovely word ever had passed her lips. She
had been most careful about her daughter's man-
ner and language, and as a matter of fact, Azalea
knew how to use much better grammar than she
usually employed. She talked carelessly be-
cause the people around her did so, and because
she didn't want to seem a bit finer than dear Pa
and Ma McBirney. Whatever they said, some-
how sounded right to her.
In a moment or two Azalea saw Carin coming
back with a tall, slender lady. The lady was
dressed in white and wore a white scarf that
drifted back from her shoulders. Even her
shoes and her parasol were white.
" That's the ghost, if there is one, I reckon,"
whispered Jim. Azalea arose as the lady drew
near and bowed politely, and Jim did the same,
because he saw Azalea doing it. The lady shook
hands with them when Carin had introduced
them, and talked with them a little while.
" How fortunate it is," she said in a fluty
voice, " that you and papa and I bought this
house before Jim and his sister saw it, isn't it?
They'd have got it away from us I'm afraid."
She laughed lightly and looked down at them
with large, warm brown eyes like her daughter's.
" Well," she went on, " since we were the lucky
ones, Carin, the only thing we can do is to show
them our treasures." And she led the way back
to the house. Carin gave a little skip.
" Don't you think she's a dear? " she whis-
pered to Azalea. " She's the sweetest mother in
the world ! "
Azalea had a vision of her own tired, frail lit-
tle mother in her silly show dresses, smiling and
THE SHOALS 103
bowing to the crowds of common people that
came to hear them, and she shivered as if a
chilly wind had blown over her. Yet her mother
might have looked as beautiful as this
lady, she thought, if she could have walked
about a lovely garden with a scarf like a cobweb
floating from her shoulders.
They were taken into the wide hall which ran
straight through the house and showed a garden
in the rear, where a fountain played; and
through the long drawing room, where as yet
there were only piles of heaped-up furniture,
then into a gay little room Mrs. Carson called
the morning room, where bright birds were pic-
tured on the curtains and the chair backs; and
then into the sitting room in the far wing, where
servants were putting hundreds of books on the
"Let me show them, mother!" cried Carin,
and she ran forward to a piece of the high panel-
ing which was not occupied by book shelves, and
pushed a little spring, and whish! back into the
casement flew the door.
"Look up! Look!" said Carin, dancing
about in her delight. Azalea ran forward and
looked up the dark narrow stairs.
" Who do you see coming down? " asked Mrs.
" A tall old man, with stooped shoulders and
a dreadful frown," said Azalea.
At that, Jim looked up.
" Why, Zalie," he said, " I don't see anyone! "
Azalea was going to laugh, but she saw that
Carin and Mrs. Carson didn't laugh.
" It's only our nonsense, Jim," the lady said
smilingly. " There isn't one of course."
She looked at her two visitors for a moment.
Jim was inquisitive. He wanted to know all
there was to know. He was out gunning, so to
speak, for facts. Azalea was wandering along
hoping to meet with fancies. She was the one
with the imagination.
" I don't know which I like best," thought
Mrs. Carson. " But I'm sure they make a good
team." Aloud she said: "What do you think
of lunch in the garden? Everyone in the house
save us is as busy as busy as can be. Shall we
get our own lunch? "
So, hardly believing that it could all be true,
Jim and his sister went with Mrs. Carson and
Carin into the great cool pantry and helped
spread the thin slices of bread, and to cut the
THE SHOALS 105
cheese and dish the honey and slice the cold
chicken. And then they sat where the cucumber
oleanders shed their fragrance, and the sound of
the fountain whispered in their ears, and ate and
talked and laughed together.
Afterward they explored the garden and the
barn at least the children did and then the
hour came for the McBirneys to go.
" Could I see your mother? " asked Azalea.
" Do you think she's resting? "
" I'll go see," Carin said. Mrs. Carson came
back with her and smiled upon the children.
" Happy days, happy days! " she sighed. " It's
nice to be as young as you are."
" We certainly have been happy, ma'am,"
Azalea said. " You've been so good to us, and
we're just strangers. I don't see how you could
be so good when you didn't know us or
" My dear," said the lady, " A few years ago
something happened to me which made me de-
cide to be happy whenever I had the chance, and
to make other people happy in the same way. I
saw you and wanted to know you. Carin wanted
to know you. You wished to see our home. It
was the kind of a home you would have picked
out for your own if you could. It was the merest
accident that I had it and you didn't. Very well,
I've shared it with you. See? Come again,
come again! We keep open doors at The
Azalea got away somehow, her heart dancing
with gratitude. Jim followed. They were late,
and they ran along the uneven, shady road. Pa
and Ma McBirney were already at the " Old
Green Place," a little tired of waiting but very
good-natured notwithstanding. So, since every-
thing was going well it seemed a little odd that
Azalea should put her head down in Ma Mc-
Birney's lap and softly weep.
Never did Alazea love this dear woman more
than when she found that she was to be allowed
to weep if she liked without being asked why.
Mary McBirney stroked the soft hair and said
nothing was most careful in fact, not to call
the attention of Jim and his father to her out-
burst. At last Azalea lifted her face, tear-
stained and smiling.
" I've been so happy," she whispered. " When
we get home I'll tell you all about it. Every-
thing seems different."
Jim had been rattling on to his father on the
THE SHOALS 107
front seat, and Mrs. McBirney, who had man-
aged to catch a part of what he was saying, had
some idea of why the world seemed different.
She, herself, thought that Azalea, the daughter
of the wandering show woman, was really meant
for a beautiful life like that of the Carson's,
rather than a life of work and poverty and hard-
ship like her own.
" But I'll give her what I can," she thought.
" I'll give her love."
That night Mary McBirney carried the
candle up to the loft for Azalea and sat beside
her while she undressed.
" I reckon you feel a little upset, honey," she
said in her gentle, motherly way. "You saw
them grand folks with their fine ways, and beau-
tiful home, and nice clothes, and it made you feel
you wasn't nobody. I know just how you feel.
I was born up Blue River Valley way, and till
I was fifteen I didn't see nobody but folks of the
same kind as mine. Then two ladies came driv-
ing through our country, writing up us moun-
tain people, and telling all about the mountains
and what trees and flowers was on 'em, and they
asked me to go along to do the cooking for them,
and shake down their beds for 'em and all that.
So I went, and set up on the front seat of the
carriage with the driver, and I heard all they
had to say, and watched their way of doing
things. Well, it set me back some. I found out
GROWING PAINS 109
that what I knew wouldn't fill the thimble point
of their knowing. They was wearing rough
clothing for camping, but if I tried all my days
I couldn't make clothes look like that. I
wouldn't know how to buy them if I had the
money. Me, I just did things anyhow, to get
them done, but they had a right way for every-
thing and rules about how to act in every kind
of case. At first I tried to catch on to their ways,
but at last I saw it was going to be too much for
me, and I just settled down to be content in my
own way with my own kind of folks. But my
pillow was wet many a night, honey. Growing
pains, they were. You're having them now."
" And so is Jim, I s'pose," sighed the girl.
" I s'pose he feels the same way all mixed up."
" He ain't feeling nothing like you be," de-
clared ma. "Jim's a boy, and matter of fact.
He's a leetle older than you, really, but not near
so old in his feelings. Jim saw what there was
to see on top saw what was floating along the
surface. But you think and feel in a different
way, and your feelings go down deeper. Now
mind, I don't say that I think they always will.
Jim's tender and he's true, and when men are
tender and true they feel deeper than any woman
can feel. At least no woman can get ahead of
them that way. I'm waiting for Jim to get a
little older before his feelings set, so to speak.
Just now he ain't got any more opinions than a
nice soft bunny."
" Oh, ma," cried Azalea, " you don't really
know him if you think that! Jim does a lot of
thinking, and he's as tender-hearted as he can
Ma McBirney blew out the candle and smiled
to herself in the dark. She loved to hear her
Jimmy praised. But he had seemed a little dull
and backward in comparison with the girl, and
in her silent jealousy for her boy, she had spoken
of him in a fault-finding way. It healed her to
hear him praised in that warm manner.
" We're lucky ones, Thomas," she said when
she had gone downstairs, " to have two children
like them. They're pure gold."
" So they be," said pa. " So they be! "
And then he and ma walked silently out to the
Pride of India tree beneath which their Molly
and Azalea's mother were buried, and stood
there a few minutes before they closed up the
house for the night.
GROWING PAINS in
The next week when pa went to town, he
brought back great news.
" Them there Carsons down in the Atherton
house," he said to his family at supper, " are up
to the greatest things you ever heard of. They're
making all the mountain folks welcome, and
buying up their pieced bedquilts and their hand-
weaving, and their baskets and chairs. Why,
Mr. Carson, he and me was made acquainted by
the grocer, and he asked me if I done anything
in the way of hand work. Well, I allowed I
made pretty good chairs, and he told me to bring
down half a dozen big roomy ones for his porch.
He said like as not some of his friends would
want some too. Then I told him about your
weaving and he said he'd like to drive his wife
up to see it. Said he'd like to look over our
place. I'd been telling him how sightly it was.
They've got everybody humping. Cannaby's
making roads for him, and Fletcher's making
shoes, and he's buying up fine hens wants
some of my guinea hens and he's looking for
a good cow, and I don't know what all. I ain't
seen things so lively down street since I can
" If he comes up, he'll bring Miss Carin,
won't he? Oh, ma, do you think he'll bring Miss
" Sure he will," said Mary McBirney. " She
wouldn't let him come up here without her if
she had her way, after all the liking she took to
" And to Jim, ma. She liked Jim just as much
as she did me."
" Go along," said Jim, " she wouldn't 'a'
looked at me if you hadn't been there, Zalie."
" She would too! What makes him act like
" He's naturally modest and retiring," said
pa with a twinkle in his eye. " He takes after
" They must be awful good folks, them Car-
sons," said ma admiringly.
" They've got plenty of goodness, but they
ain't blessed with any too much sense," remarked
"What makes you think that, Thomas?"
" Well, the folks was telling me how this Mr.
Carson goes riding all over the mountain alone.
He don't seem to have no idea that he might
stumble on something it would be best for him
not to see. Any morning, if he gets up early, he
GROWING PAINS 113
can see a dozen streams of smoke rising from
the mountain side, and if he's got the sense of a
mule, he'll know that there's a moonshine still
at every one of them colyumns of smoke. Any
baby'd know that. The sensible thing for folks
to do in this part of the country, is to keep to
the beaten track, and not to go too far on that.
Them moonshiners is dreadful sensitive. They
think folks is prying into their affairs when they
ain't no such intention and once they get that
idea they make it mighty uncomfortable for
whoever has come under suspicion."
" You ought to warn him, pa. He can't know
" They ain't my ways, I tell you that! Moon-
shining ways ain't my ways," declared pa.
Azalea didn't entirely understand about these
" moonshiners " as they were called, though she
had heard about them all her life. Pa explained
to her that they were people who made crude
whiskey from the corn and sold it without pay-
ing the government the tax which it had placed
upon liquor, and that because they did not pay
this tax they had to make their whiskey in secret.
The officers of the government were always on
the outlook for them, and so these people had
1 14 AZALEA
to keep on an outlook for the officers, and they
were liable to think that everyone who got
anywhere near them was spying on them.
" On the face of it," said pa meditatively, " I
suppose it don't seem so bad making some-
thing you know how to make and selling it to
them as wants to buy, without saying by-your-
leave to no one. But the country can't be run
without money, and one of the ways it takes to
raise money is by placing a big tax on liquor.
As for me, I wouldn't care if 'twas ten times
bigger than it is. It's done a heap more harm
than good, to my mind, although I'm not so pig-
headed as to deny that it can do good sometimes.
But it ain't just the making and selling of the
whiskey in secret that hurts these moonshiners.
It's the setting themselves against the law, and
getting to be outlaws, and keeping hate and fear
and suspicion in their hearts early and late, and
bringing up their children to the same ideas.
It's a wicked thing, Azalea, and it brings trouble
beyond measuring to the folks down here."
" And yet," said ma, " I know some moon-
shiners who are very pleasant people."
" Sure! " cried pa. " They'll do anything for
their friends and they'll stand by each other
GROWING PAINS 115
through thick and thin. And you're not to think
that they're all ignorant and unlearned. Some
of them is smart as whips, and send their chil-
dren away to school and take books out of the
public library there at Lee. I could mention
some not an hour's ride from this very spot who
do it. And I've known whole communities of
moonshiners to be converted and join the church
and turn from their evil ways, and they make
pretty noisy church members, most of them.
It seems like they take their religion hard. I've
heard them at camp meeting and they was doing
more hollering and shouting than all the rest
put together. I reckon they thought the Lord
had a good deal to forgive."
"Why, pa!" murmured Mrs. McBirney.
"How you talk! And before the children!
But now you can see, Azalea, why I don't want
you wandering around alone on these mountains.
You're likely to run into one of them stills while
they're in operation, and while they wouldn't
do any harm to a girl, they'd think it up to them
to give her a dreadful scare. So you stick to
the places you know about. You hear? "
Azalea thought about the moonshiners a good
deal after this. It seemed to her to be dreadful
not to be able to live in a free and open way.
She could think of nothing that she would hate
worse than having to hide, or to be forever on
the watch. In the old days when she had
traveled with the show she often had been made
to feel that people did not want them around.
They had, in a way, been under suspicion, and
houses were always locked up more carefully
when the show people came to town. Not that
there was any need of it, so far as she knew.
They had not been thieves; but they had been
careless and dirty and miserable enough. It was
very different from the life she was leading
now. Pa and Ma McBirney could look any-
body in the face. They would go out from their
door, smiling, to meet the people driving by, and
would always beg them to stop and have some
spring water or fresh milk; and Jim and she
were proud to be with them. Everyone seemed
to like the McBirneys. Everyone thought they
were good and Azalea knew they were and
that it was an honor for her to bear their name.
At the same time, Azalea realized that she
was somehow different from them. For exam-
ple, ma had spoken of giving up trying to be like
GROWING PAINS 117
those ladies she traveled with. When she found
they had so many rules and ways which she
couldn't understand, she made up her mind not
to worry about all of these strange matters, but
to be contented with her own people and their
manner of doing things. Now Azalea felt sure
that she, for her part, would not have given up.
" I'd have learned their way of doing things,"
she said to herself. " I'd have found out about
those things that they knew and I didn't, 'deed
I would. I just hate to have folks get ahead of
me! I'm like old Nannie; I want to keep up
with everything on the road. And Jim does too,
I reckon. I hope pa and ma will let us go to
school when it opens, though Jim says it's a
dreadful long walk. But I don't mind walking.
Mercy, if anybody knows how to walk, I'm the
It was the very next Sunday that Azalea
found out what the moonshiners would do even
to a person they were not much afraid of. She
had gone to the spring house early, to get the
cream and butter, when she saw some one dash-
ing out of the bushes. It was a boy, but it took
her several moments to find out that it was some
one she knew. When she made out that it was
her old friend Hi Ketchell with that white face
and those frightened eyes, she was amazed.
"Whatever ails you, Hi?" she called, run-
ning toward him. " You haven't been bitten by
a rattler have you? "
But Hi was too out of breath to answer at once,
and he dropped down on the seat by the spring
house while Azalea brought him a glass of
" It was men! " he managed to gasp at last.
" It was men, Zalie. They was going to kill me,
and I hadn't done no manner of harm to them.
I was walking up the trail for I thought I
might as well be here in time for breakfast, since
Mrs. McBirney had asked me to spend the day
and I thought I'd take some short cuts. So
plunk I went up the mountain, and the first
thing I knowed, I had run plumb into a whole
gang of men working like good fellows with a
fire and coils of pipe and kettles, and I don't
know what all. Soon as my eyes lighted on to
them I guessed it was a moonshiners' still, and I
tried to crawl away without anybody's seeing
me. But, sir, one fellow, he caught sight of me,
and he grabbed his gun and started after me,
and two others grabbed their guns, and I just
GROWING PAINS 119
hiked up the mountain and they after me. But
laws, I couldn't run with them fellows. Seems
as if their legs was about three yards long. They
got me in no time and they stood me up against
a tree and backed off and pointed their guns at
me and told me if I didn't promise I'd never,
never tell on them, they'd put so many holes into
me my mother'd think I was a sieve. Well, I
give my word I wouldn't tell where their place
was, nor anything about them, and they let me
go, but they said if I wasn't out of sight in two
minutes they'd fire anyway. And they run after
me a ways just to give me a start."
He grinned up at Azalea, as if half ashamed
of the whole affair, and she laughed back at
him, reassuringly, though her face was rather
" But you've told me, Hi," she sard. " And
you've broken your promise."
" Zalie," he said sternly, " Don't I tell you
everything? Besides, you don't know where
their place is, and I ain't going to tell, partly
because I don't want to, and partly because I
don't know. I don't see how I ever found the
way here at all, I was so mixed up. And what's
more, I don't attach no importance to a promise
that's wrung out of a fellow like that. Of course
I promised! I had to. But that's a very differ-
ent thing from a promise you give on your honor.
I don't want you to think I'd break a promise,
Zalie not a fair and square promise."
" Oh, Hi! don't I know you wouldn't? I'm
only teasing. I won't say a word about it to any-
one ; but it shows ma was right. She said I must
keep to the road and not go prowling off by my-
self. How are you getting on, Hi? "
" Oh, first-rate. I don't like being shut up in
the mill all day any too well, of course. You
see, it comes hard on a fellow who's been used
to being out of doors early and late. But there's
little children there, Zalie little, little chil-
dren. It makes me feel dreadful to see them.
I tell you, I'm not meaning to stay there long.
I'm looking about all the time for some kind of
an outdoor job. Mr. Carson, he's got me to
pulling weeds out of his brick walk. I have
about half an hour after work and before it gets
dark and that lets me do quite a lot at the Car-
sons; and then they give me my supper there."
" But that makes such long hours. Hi,"
Azalea protested. " You'll wear yourself out."
GROWING PAINS 121
" No I won't, Zalie. I'm made of cast iron.
And then the working out of doors sort of rests
me. It gives me an appetite too. And I tell
you what, I want to please Mr. Carson. He's
a fire man to work for. Ke seems to kind of
notice rne, and I think maybe I can get took on
there at his place."
" The Carsons are like that. They notice
everybody. They even noticed Jim and me."
" Why, you goose, anybody would notice
you!" cried Hi. "Don't you know that yet?
Jim's a mighty pleasant-looking boy too. Looks
as if he knew which end he was standing on, all
But at that moment Ma McBirney's voice,
with a tone of impatience in it, came out to
" Azalea, child, where in the name of good-
ness have you gone? Don't you know we're
waiting breakfast? Hurry up, child, do. Pa
has just made up his mind to take us all to the
" The Singing? What's the Singing? " asked
Azalea, as she and Hi ran toward the house with
the butter and the milk in their hands.
" Don't tell me you don't know what a sing-
ing is," said pa. Hi and Azalea shook their
" Well, then," said pa, " nobody is to tell you,
and before long you'll see for yourselves.
Hustle now, we ought to have been on the road
by this time. It slipped my mind this was the
date, till the Groggings went by and reminded
" My goodness," sighed ma, " I'm glad our
best dresses are fresh ironed, Azalea. Here,
everybody pay strict attention to eating! We've
got to get off if we're to take any part in the
" Say," said Hi as he and Jim washed their
faces and gave an extra fine brushing to their
hair, " ain't I the lucky one though, going off
like this with you-all? I don't see how it
comes your pa and ma are so good to me and
" Comes natural to them," growled Jim,
much embarrassed by this praise of the persons
he loved best. " They're even good to me."
" Get out! " cried Hi, sprinkling some water
on Jim's clean waist.
" Here you, if you think so much of my ma,
what are you spoiling all her work for? "
shouted Jim. " You need a little learning, that's
what you need! "
The next moment the two boys had gripped
and were rolling on the floor together. Mrs.
McBirney heard the rumpus and came running,
but her gentle voice could barely make itself
heard as the two boys threshed around on the
floor, and it took Thomas McBirney's strong
hand and firm voice to bring them to their feet
again, half laughing and half angry, and red as
" A likely way to begin the Sabbath," pa re-
proved them. " Brush yourselves off now, and
get calmed down before we start. It will be a
pleasant sight, seeing you two standing up
hymn-singing, after the way you've been carry-
However, when fifteen minutes later the
party started off down the mountain side, the
two boys looked like perfect models. Hi was
allowed to sit on the front seat with pa; Jim,
Azalea and Mrs. McBirney sat behind. Ma
wore her one white dress and her black bonnet
with the green ribbon, and Azalea had on her
new white dress with the cat stitching in blue;
and her white hat with its blue ribbons was the
very hat of hats for her to wear. Pa McBirney
felt secretly proud of his family, but it wouldn't
have been his way to give them a notion of that.
However, ma, who knew most of the things that
pa thought, could tell that he was well pleased.
He showed Hi all the landmarks the little
broken branches that looked like two birds sit-
THE SINGING 125
ting side by side on a gaunt live-oak limb that
reached over their path; the " cannon," a huge
prone log which had once fallen across the road,
and had been sawed in such a manner that it
looked like a gigantic gun ready to be fired at
them; the " haunted house " where a family of
white-faced, queer folk lived, who ran in and
drew down the shades when they saw anyone
coming; and the " spy glass," a curious opening
through miles of woodland, through which a
person could look down the mountain side and
away across the valley, where the cotton and the
corn grew in their rich fields and the silver
streams wound in and out.
" I tell you, we that live in a place like this
are likely to forget our blessings," remarked
Mr. McBirney. " Every way you turn, it's
sightly and a comfort to the eye. If I had to live
where it was all dirt and noise and folks crowd-
ing on top of one another, seems like I'd want to
"Wouldn't you, just!" murmured ma
" But here we are, off pleasuring, on as pretty
a day as God ever dropped down on his foot-
Ma agreed with him, and began to " tune up,"
as pa put it, humming under her breath. She
had her old song book in her hand the book
with the square notes, such as the mountain
people always used at their " singings." She
explained to Azalea that the shape of the notes
indicated their names. For example, no matter
what key " do " might be in, it could be told for
" do " by its shape. " Sol " would have another
shape; "re" yet another. In this manner no
one need be confused by four or even six sharps.
" And it's a custom with us, Azalea," she
explained, "to sing the tune through by note
first. After we've done that, and everybody has
got the tune fixed in his head, so to speak, we go
through and sing the words."
" You'll have to tell Hi about the singing,"
" It seems mighty queer to me how you-all
don't know about singings," ma replied. " It
ain't nothing but all the folks getting together
and singing. They do it once a year you know
come from all over the countryside. There
now, look yonder! See them wagons coming
from all parts? They're all off for Rutherford
Plain where the old Friendly Meeting House
THE SINGING 127
is. That was built before the war, all of great
oak beams and boards, and it don't belong to no
one denomination, but folks of whatever belief
meet there and give praise and worship."
"Ain't it nice?" sighed Azalea contentedly.
It was very sweet to her to be riding along there,
the daughter of people who were so much
thought of as the McBirneys she who had
been a wanderer, and often a hungry, neglected
child, in clothes she was ashamed of, and the
companion of people she had been unable to
respect. Everyone had a pleasant word for Ma
and Pa McBirney, and almost everyone seemed
to know about her and to ask if she was their
new daughter. They said they were pleased to
meet her, and when they knew about Hi and
the McBirneys were quick to tell they said
they were pleased to meet him too, and that
they'd like mighty well to do him a good turn if
the chance offered. There was so much talking
of this kind to do, that after all, Hi did not get
his description of the singing, and it was only
when he had reached the grove around Friendly
Church that he began to understand what a
happy occasion it really was.
Wagons by the twenties stood about, their
horses unhitched and tied beneath the trees.
Men, women and children were gathered in
groups, talking and laughing. The heavy
barred doors of the old church were swung
wide, and the ivy and crimson creeper peeped in
at its open windows. The boys helped pa un-
hitch and were ready when the deep-toned bell
sounded, to go with the others into the church.
The bare yet homely interior was stained a
deep reddish brown by time, and the wide-
swung casements let in the sky of the fair sum-
mer day. Elder Miles stood in the pulpit for a
few minutes, to ask a blessing on the gathering,
and then a hook-nosed, slender, restless old man
with a voice like a silver trumpet got up and
called for volunteers for the first singing. He
said he thought it would be better to have the
middle-aged folks at the first table, so to speak,
and that the young folks could wait for second
With that, men and women arose in various
parts of the room and went forward. Their
weather-colored, work-worn faces were lighted
with smiles as they went down the aisle, nodding
to acquaintances shyly, and taking their places
in the seats which had been arranged just below
THE SINGING 129
the pulpit. There seemed to be no need to inquire
which was soprano, alto, tenor or bass. They
had met together for years, and knew each
other's voices well. There were only two who
hesitated as if not quite sure where to go, and
Azalea, seeing them, was surprised to see that it
was Mrs. Carson and a tall handsome man, with
a touch of gray in his hair, whom she took at
once to be Carin's father. The hook-nosed man
came forward to inquire politely as to their
voices, and after shaking hands with them,
placed them among the sopranos and the tenors.
Then a fresh-faced young woman seated her-
self at the organ, and in a moment the chorus of
voices broke on Azalea's ear. It was not the
way she had expected it to be that music. It
was sad, although full of worship and trust.
The voices wavered curiously, and seemed to
flutter on the notes something as a flag flutters
in the wind. Perhaps the alto and the bass were
a little too strong for the more musical parts ; but
at any rate, at first, the little girl was disap-
pointed. Then, someway, she began to like it.
She felt the tears come stinging to her eyes,
though she could not have told why, and a lump
gathered in her throat. She forgot the men and
1 30 AZALEA
women and the haggard old meeting house, for-
got the sound of the pines without and the hum-
ming of the bees; and she seemed for a moment
- a wonderful moment to be in mid-air like
a bird, and to hear a strange, sad, holy song com-
ing up to her from men and women who toiled,
and hoped, and loved, and suffered, down on the
Some one offered her a hymn book, and the
strange moment passed, and she was able to fol-
low the hymns. They had noble words to them,
and her heart seemed to grow bigger as she read
them. Such words suited her fed something
in her that was hungry and cried for food. She
began to understand why it was that Pa and Ma
McBirney were so good. They had been taught
these words from the time that they were chil-
dren. They had grown up with these beautiful
thoughts in their hearts.
After a time the young people were called for,
and the older ones took their seats. The young
wives went and their brown-faced husbands,
and the fresh-faced, wistful girls, and the boys
with their bright eyes. Azalea loved to look at
them, they seemed so strong and contented. She
liked the bright frocks of the girls, and the way
THE SINGING 131
their hair was braided, and though she tried to
think of other things, she fell to picturing a
green lawn frock she would have some day
when she made money for herself, and the
figured sash green leaves on a white ground
- she would wear with it.
Just then, the man who was sitting next
Azalea arose and went over by the window, and
a moment later some one slipped down into the
place he had left and gave Azalea's hand a
squeeze. Azalea turned her head as quick as a
frightened bird, and there sat Carin Carson,
smiling at her as if they were old friends.
" I was so glad when I saw you here," she
whispered. " Isn't it a pity they don't ask the
children to sing? I just love to sing, don't
Azalea shook her head. She had sung many
a time for the people who came to the show,
but she had hated the silly songs she was made
to sing, and as she thought of them now she
" I don't believe I really can sing," she
whispered back. " I could once, but my voice
is spoiled. I sang too loud, and now it's all
rough and horrid."
" I don't believe it," returned her friend.
" Your voice is so pleasant when you speak that
I don't see how it can be horrid when you sing.
I'm to have a singing teacher come to the house
twice a week, and I wish you'd come down some
time and have her hear you. Perhaps you sing
a great deal better than you think you do."
" No, no," whispered Azalea, shaking her
head. " I do everything wrong! "
Carin laughed under her breath and gave her
friend's hand another squeeze. She was think-
ing that Azalea was the prettiest girl in the
place, but she had been taught that it was not
nice to pay people compliments, and so she said
nothing of what was in her mind. But she de-
cided that she would enjoy Azalea's society for
that day, and when the singing adjourned for
the people to eat their lunch, Carin insisted that
the McBirneys and her people should eat
together. So, by dint of urging and introducing,
she finally had the pleasure of seeing her father
and mother and Mr. and Mrs. McBirney seated
together beneath the shade of some glorious
tulip trees, spreading their luncheons dut on one
Mr. and Mrs. Carson were people who had
THE SINGING 133
traveled in many foreign places, and had heard
and seen much that was most beautiful and
wonderful in the world, but their ways were so
simple and hearty that neither Mary nor
Thomas McBirney felt abashed with them. In
fact, the Carsons were ignorant of many things
in the country round about them, and they asked
questions as if they were children. The McBir-
neys answered them politely, though they really
couldn't help wondering how it was that such
learned people didn't know ginseng when they
saw it, or that they hadn't heard about the asbes-
tos mines in the neighborhood, or didn't under-
stand how to trap the rabbits that spoiled the
Azalea was fascinated with the free ways all
these Carsons had. They seemed to say what-
ever came into their heads, and they laughed
outright in such a hearty and happy way that
those who heard them had to laugh too. Mr.
Carson kept running through the hymn tunes
he had heard, though he did it in a quiet, charm-
ing way, not at all as if he wished to attract
attention, but as if he felt himself among friends
who would allow him to follow his impulses.
He was, of course, different from all of the other
men there, yet he had a way of making it seem
as if they did him a favor when they were
friendly with him, and Azalea heard him
heartily thanking the hook-nosed man Mr.
Pickett, his name was for having asked him
and Mrs. Carson to sing.
" I never quite had a chance to sing as much
as I wanted to," he said laughingly. " I sing
when I get up, and when I'm in my bath tub,
and when I walk and when I ride. If my wife
would let me I'd sing at the table, particularly
when I see my favorite kind of custard pie com-
ing on but though I've done my best, I've not
had my sing out yet."
" Well, if you live down this way long
enough, sir," answered Mr. Pickett, " we'll try
to satisfy you yet."
Mr. Pickett said there would be quite a long
recess before the singing " took up " again, so
Azalea and Carin wandered away in the woods
together. Azalea couldn't help feeling just a
trifle awkward and shy with this graceful girl,
whose clothes seem to move with a mysterious
rustle, and who was like a flower, giving out
faint odors of violet as she walked. Her laugh
was gay, but soft, and every word she spoke
THE SINGING 135
seemed to have another accent than that to
which Azalea was used. Azalea wondered how
she could be so well pleased with a simple girl
like herself, and with all these hard-working
folk, and she tried to say something of the kind,
but she could find no fit words. So they talked
about the woods, and about the sort of picnics
they liked, and about how afraid they were
or weren't of thunder storms.
As they went on, they came to a beautiful hol-
low in the woods. There was soft, very green
grass in the bottom of this cup-shaped place,
and ferns and delicate vines grew on the sides.
"What a lovely, lovely place!" cried Carin,
clasping her hands. " Fit for the fairy queen,
isn't it, Azalea?"
"Do you believe in fairies?" asked Azalea
" Believe in them? " repeated Carin. " I
believe in whatever I want to believe in. Don't
you think it's fun to believe in fairies? "
" What's the use of believing in a thing that
" Oh, well," said Carin, sighing, as if she
found it rather hard to bridge the distance
between Azalea's mind and her own, " some
thoughts are for use and some are for fun. My
shoes are for use, but my gold beads are for fun.
Ideas are like that too. I know the earth turns
over and makes day and night; I play there are
fairies just to suit myself. It's like trimming on
a dress thoughts of that kind. You like trim-
ming on a dress, don't you, Azalea? "
But Azalea's answer was a low cry.
"Don't move, Carin! Don't move! Oh,
Carin, the snake! "
Carin looked and saw. Before her, coiled
and ready for its wicked spring, was a snake
with a gleaming, splendid skin, green and
brown and iridescent tints, in diamond shaped
pattern, and on the summer air was a dry, curi-
ous rattle that told both the girls its alarming
story. Carin said nothing for the second or two
in which she realized her danger, and she seemed
only to half hear Azalea's sharp cry:
" Now, jump to one side, Oh, quick! "
But she had no time to obey, for at that instant,
a shot rang on the air, and the wicked head of
the serpent drooped.
" Oh, Oh! " screamed Azalea, more terrified
now that the danger was over than she had been
before. And " Oh," sighed Carin softly, and
THE SINGING 137
slid down to the ground and sat there, very
white, with one hand to her lips.
" It's all right, honey bird, all right," cried a
voice near them. " That there sarpent can't do
you no manner of harm now. You jest sit still a
minute or two and get over your scare, and then
I'll escort you back to your folks."
Carin and Azalea both turned and looked into
the eyes of a wonderful old man looked into
eyes, large, dark, and soft, half hidden beneath
bushy eyebrows, and set beneath a beetling brow.
His hair was iron-gray, curling and thick, and
it stood up on his head in such a way as to make
him look two or three inches taller than he
really was, and that was quite unnecessary, for
he stood, as he was quick to declare, six feet and
four inches in his stocking feet. He was very
thin, and when he walked he seemed on the
point of falling to pieces, because he had what
is known as double joints, so that his arms and
legs swung about in almost any way he wished
to have them, and his head turned about with
wonderful ease on his long neck.
He stooped now and it was an amazing
thing to see him do it and picked up a fiddle
which he had laid against the trunk of a tree.
" It certainly was a mighty 'convenient thing,
having that gun along," he said. " Old brother
sarpent, he never would have waited for me to
get after him with a stick. A bullet was the only
thing that could put him out of business, and I
wa'n't sure I could hit him at that distance -
couldn't have, I reckon, if the case hadn't been
Carin got up and ran toward him with her
" Thank you! Thank you, sir! " she said, in
that pretty eager way of hers. " I know what
you've done for me, and I must take you to see
my papa and mamma. Why, it was wonderful!
I'll never forget it as long as I live."
" Steady on, steady on," said the man.
" Knocking the head off a tarnation rascal like
that is no new business with me. Glad, though,
to have served you, little miss."
He bowed low, and the girls watched him,
" I didn't hear you playing this morning, sir,"
went on Carin. " Weren't you in at the Sing-
ing? I should think they'd love to have you
" My innings are coming, Miss Honey Bird."
THE SINGING 139
replied the man smiling. " There ain't been a
singing at Friendly Church for thirty years that
hain't had old Haystack Thompson there, a fid-
dling. But I was late getting here to-day. I've
been farming it away up on Rabbit Nose Moun-
tain, and I had to hoof it down here. I started
early enough, but I got lazy like and laid down
and dozed off. When I woke, the sun was high
overhead and I just piked along, but even then
I found myself late."
" You will play, though, won't you, sir? "
" You bet I will, Miss Honey Bird. And I
pray the Lord will keep a guard over my bow
and hold it down to hymn tunes. If so be, that
thar bow should get Old Nick in it, as I've
known it to do afore now, I might have the
whole kit and boodle footing the Highland fling
or the Virginia reel right there on the floor of
the meeting house."
Carin laughed merrily.
" Oh, do come along quick and meet papa,"
she said. " You'll be such good friends." She
ran ahead in her eagerness, urging " Haystack
Thompson " to follow.
It had not been necessary for her to ask why
he had this curious name, for she knew very
well that it had been given to him because of his
wild crop of hair, which did indeed look like a
stack of hay after a bad windstorm.
" I'd no idea that Azalea and I had come so
far," she said to her new friend. " We
wandered on and on, talking, and when we came
to that lovely hollow we couldn't keep out of it."
They were getting to the clearing, and they
could see the people moving toward the church.
Mr. Thompson caught a glimpse of Mr. Pickett,
and the two musicians greeted each other like
long-lost brothers, and walked toward the meet-
ing house in great enthusiasm, making an odd
pair, for Mr. Pitckett, for all of his air of
importance, reached no higher than Mr.
Thompson's shoulder. Carin found her father
just as he was going in the door and dragged
him back to meet her new acquaintance; and
a moment later, everyone had seen " Old Hay-
stack" and was clamoring for his music. Mr.
Thompson was given the post of honor, and
there he stood, towering up toward the pointed
roof, his faded fiddle in his hand, tears in his
eyes, smiling at his old friends.
He tuned up carefully, and ran his bow lov-
ingly across the string a few times, then gave a
THE SINGING 141
shake to the " haystack " and began to play " Old
Hundred." At first it was as if a deep voice,
full of love of God and life were singing; then
as if a chorus of children's voices sang it in joy;
then as if the wind called it .to the sea and the
sea answered; then as if the hills shouted it and
the voices of all living things joined in.
Carin found herself on her feet found her-
self, indeed, wishing that she could fly. For a
moment it seemed as if she were flying, but when
she looked about her, she saw that she was not,
but was standing singing at the top of her lungs
with all the others. And then for an hour, while
the tall, gaunt fiddler drew his music from his
instrument, and the people followed him as if
they had one voice, Carin forgot everything in
the world except the music. But suddenly it
ended. The fiddler played some minor theme
which no one knew, and which was born in his
brain that moment. All the people took it for
the note of parting and filed out of the church.
And once out, they seemed in little mood to talk.
They had been too deeply moved for that. They
preferred to get in their vehicles and drive off
into the silence of the lonely mountain roads.
Carin, certainly, was glad that she could snuggle
in the back seat of their surrey with her mother,
and sit there in quiet. She was strangely tired,
and wanted nothing in the world except to rest,
and she thought, in the back of her mind, that
probably Azalea was feeling the same way.
That made her wonder how it was that she had
not seen Azalea after they all went back into
the church, and she was just going to speak to
her mother about it, when Mrs. McBirney came
running toward them with a white face.
" We can't find Azalea anywhere," she cried.
" We've looked everywhere pa and Jim and
Hi, and Mr. Pickett and lots of others. We
can't find her anywhere! "
" Why, she can't be far away," cried Carin,
trembling in spite of herself. " I'm sure I can
find her, Mrs. McBirney. Where's Mr.
Thompson? He'll go with me back to the place
where we were together. She came after us for
a way, I know. I thought she followed the
whole way, but the singing was just beginning,
and I ran in the church, not noticing."
" Of course we'll find her, Mrs. McBirney,"
Mr. Carson declared stoutly. "The child
couldn't get lost in a clearing like this."
" Perhaps she lit out," drawled a mountain
woman who was standing near. " You can't tell
what a girl brought up to lead a wandering life
might do. Tramps like that ain't to be depended
on to keep to roof and hearth."
Mary McBirney turned toward the woman
with flashing eyes.
" My Azalea wouldn't do anything to make
me trouble, ma'am," she said. " She's got a
heart of gold. Something has happened -
that's the whole of it something has hap-
Carin had sped in search of Mr. Thompson,
and having found him, the two set off in the
woods in search of the dell. " Haystack's " hair
seemed to tower higher than ever, and his green
felt cover was half off his violin, and dangled
among the bushes as the two hastened through
the wood. In Carin's heart was the terrible
thought of the rattlesnake. What if the mate to
the one Mr. Thompson had killed had stung
Azalea! But why, then, had she not cried out?
It was past imagining. Mr. Thompson took
Carin's hand in his that they might go faster,
and the two hastened on through the sun-flecked
wood till they came to the beautiful hollow with
the soft green grass. But they could see nothing
of Azalea, and their calls and halloos brought
" We must try another tack," said Mr.
Thompson. " Something queer about this
something mighty queer."
So all the neighbors seemed to think. The
news that Azalea was missing had spread
rapidly. It had overtaken the departing wagon-
THE KIDNAPPING 145
loads of neighbors, who returned to lend their
assistance to their distressed neighbors. Par-
ties ran out in all directions, scouring the woods,
calling, peeping into the old well, and visiting
the near-by houses. No one had seen or heard
anything of the girl.
" You don't think she'd go into hiding, sister
McBirney," inquired good old Elder Mills,
with sympathy in his eye. " She didn't seem
like that sort of a girl, but she might have taken
offense at something when no offense was meant.
Young folks are like that, sometimes. I ran
away from a good home twice when I was a boy,
because my feelings were so precious tender.
Great fools young folks are! And the worst of
it is, they don't all grow out of their folly when
they get older."
Mrs. McBirney stood there among her neigh-
bors and cast her eye first on this group and then
" I must say it clear and plain," she said in
her pleasant voice ; " I trust that girl like I would
my own son here. She loves me and I love her,
and we're heart to heart. She's in some kind of
trouble, and I reckon I know what it is."
"What?" demanded twenty voices.
" Them show people has stole her. They said
they would, and they waited till we was off the
watch, and took their chance."
" Why, ma," said Thomas McBirney,
" they've been gone weeks and weeks. They had
about all they wanted of this community."
" They must have come back then," answered
Mrs, McBirney with gentle obstinacy, " for
they've gone and took my girl."
The words faltered in her throat, and Jimmy,
who was watching her, ran to her and slipped
his arms about her. It was the first time that his
mother had realized that he was not a little boy.
She found in that moment of sorrow that by
bowing her head, she could weep on his sturdy
young shoulder, and that he seemed strong to
Hi Kitchell drew near, his eyes shining in a
face that was white beneath all his tan.
" Zalie didn't run away," he said in his rather
gruff voice, which was changing from a boy's
to a man's, and was now in his throat and now in
his head. " You can't make me think Zalie ran
away. She wouldn't do such a mean thing."
" I'm sure she wouldn't, Hi," broke in the soft
tones of Mrs. Carson. " She was too kind and
THE KIDNAPPING 147
too happy. I think we'd better drive home, each
going our proper way, watching out on every
side for her, and get the sheriff to send word to
all the towns round about. If the show people
have taken her, it ought to be an easy matter to
find her, for the show is bound to go to the
" Yes, yes," broke in her husband. " Let's do
something! I can't stand this waiting around,
not knowing what may be happening to the poor
child. Mr. Pickett tells me he'll have every
inch of woods for a radius of two miles around,
searched by some of these young men. So we
may leave that quite in his hands. But he thinks,
and I think, that the child has been carried
away. He said he heard the show people kept
making their threats. They heard of the Sing-
ing, and judged that Azalea would be here and
that it was their chance."
" We ought to have cared for her better,"
moaned Ma McBirney. " Thomas, I blame my-
self for not looking after her better."
" Well, Mary, you'll have to do all the blam-
ing yourself then, for nobody else will do it.
We've set ourselves to war against the children
of Satan, and they've been more wily than we
took them to be. That's all there is to it."
A light rain had begun to fall and the glory
of the day was quite gone as the people turned
from the grove around Friendly Church and
moved off along the six roads that debouched
from that gathering place.
Carin looked sadly from the little window in
the curtains of their surrey, and wondered what
strange thing could be happening to her friend.
Though several hours had passed since she was
lost, and though at least two hundred persons
had joined in the search for her, and she had
not been found, still, Carin found it impossible
to realize that anything could have happened to
the laughing girl who had run with her through
the woods to the green dell.
Usually Carin liked to ride in the rain. It was
fun to cuddle down beneath the robes, in the
dusk of the curtained carriage, and " play."
Carin knew how to play much more delightful
things without toys than with them. She had
only to begin pretending that she was a princess
who was being stolen and carried into the desert;
or that she was a missionary traveling over the
Himalayas; or a pirate's daughter, going to hide
THE KIDNAPPING 149
treasure; or any other of a hundred things, to
have a beautiful time. One of her favorite " pre-
tends " had been that about the stolen princess.
But the story had come true in a way, and Carin
found it was not nearly so amusing as she had
thought it would be.
The rain grew heavier and the sky sulkier, and
when they reached home, it was chilly and
almost dark. To be sure the great house was
lighted up, and a fire was burning in the living
room, and a delicious supper was spread. But
these things did not bring as much comfort as
usual. Mrs. Carson had insisted that the Mc-
Birneys should not climb the mountain that
" You'll only have to come down in the morn-
ing," she said. " Spend the night with us.
We'll telephone the sheriff and get him up here;
and we'll telegraph all the surrounding towns,
and you'll be right here to help and advise."
" But there's the stock," objected Thomas
McBirney. " I can't leave the poor dumb beasts
hungering and thirsting."
" Hi and me'll look after them, pa," said Jim.
1 You just let us take the horses, and we'll ride
up there and 'tend to things."
" 'Deed we will," agreed Hi. " The only
trouble is, I ought to be at the mill in the morn-
ing. They'll be looking for me."
Hi spoke as if the mill would shut down if he
didn't get there on time, and Mr. Carson
couldn't conceal a smile. He liked Hi's import-
ant businesslike ways and his fashion of taking
responsibility. So he answered gravely:
" Allow me to call up the manager of the mill
the first thing in the morning, Hi, and apprise
him of the situation. I may be able to get him
at breakfast, so that he'll know just what to ex-
pect before he reaches the office."
It seemed a reasonable arrangement to Hi,
and he hadn't the faintest notion of the smiles of
his elders. So, mounted on the bare backs of the
McBirney horses, the boys set out to ride up the
mountain in the rain. Each wore an old rain-
coat which Mr. Carson had fished up from
somewhere about the house, and each carried a
" It certainly looks mighty lonely to me for
them boys to start off up that mountain alone,"
sighed Pa McBirney. " But I couldn't endure
it to think of the stock going unfed."
" You don't suppose those dreadful people
THE KIDNAPPING 151
will get after Hi, too, do you? " Carin whispered
to her mother. Mrs. Carson started and looked
" I declare Carin, I don't know. I'm all at
sea. I've read of things like this, but nothing of
the sort ever came into my life before, and I can't
more than half believe it."
" That's just the way I feel, mamma. There's
a ring at the doorbell. Perhaps it's the sheriff."
It was the sheriff, Mr. James Coulter, a heavy
man with small eyes and a square jaw, and with
him was Haystack Thompson.
" You'll have to excuse me for coming along,"
Haystack apologized. " But I'm in this hunt to
stay. Life's been lagging along pretty slow with
me lately and now here something comes that
looks to me like a man's work, and I'll be plum-
basted, if I don't want a hand in it."
Thomas McBirney held out his hand.
" You always was one for adventures, Mr.
Thompson," he said, with emotion in his voice.
" We're grateful for your help."
So they sat together, planning and scheming,
till Carin fell asleep on the sofa, and the oil
burned out of the lamps. The rain fell heavier
and heavier and blew in gusts against the pane.
And when Carin staggered up to bed with the
help of Mammy Thula, it seemed to her as if all
the pleasant things had stopped happening
and only trouble was at hand.
Very much the same sort of an idea was lying
in the bottom of Ma McBirney's mind, though
she tried to answer cheerfully when her Thomas
spoke to her, and she said her prayers as if she
had perfect faith that they were to be answered.
But the truth was, she was too worried just then
to have much faith. She imagined the frightful
things that might be happening to her poor
Azalea, and she realized more than ever how
dear the child had become to her, and how she
loved her merry ways and her odd turns of mind,
and her way of acting as if the world was hers.
But, more than that Oh, much more than that
just at that particular moment, was her anxiety
for her own James Stuart. What was her boy
doing just then, she wondered. The rain was
simply threshing against the pane, and she knew
in what torrents it would pour down the moun-
tain side, ripping new gulleys for itself and
deepening the old ones. It was black as only
night and cloud can make the world, and the
horses would be wearied and fretted.
THE KIDNAPPING 153
" I doubt we were right in letting those poor
boys go up the mountain to-night, Thomas," she
said, just as the good Pa McBirney was sinking
into slumber. " We might better have let the
creatures go hungry for a while than to risk the
lives of those boys."
" Go to sleep, Mary," commanded Mr. Mc-
Birney in a sleepy voice. " I've got to have my
night's rest." And indeed, he seemed to be be-
ginning it before he had finished his sentence,
for the next moment above all the clamor and
uproar of the gale, ma could hear his steady and
But she lay awake, turning this way and that,
creeping out of bed to look from the window,
where nothing could be seen but this latter
deluge, and then huddling in again, praying for
the three wandering children.
And as a matter of fact, prayers could not
come amiss for any of them that night. And
really, her own freckled Jim needed them rather
more than the two she had taken under her
motherly wing. For James Stuart McBirney
encountered that night one of the greatest
dangers of his short but interesting career. The
two drenched boys had urged their horses up the
slippery mountain road, and the horses had
plunged on, half blinded by the storm. The
way had been difficult, but all had gone well
enough till they came to the falls where Jim
had, several weeks before, shown Hi his mill
and dam. The fall was roaring down the moun-
tain side, and the boys had no choice but to
cross the swollen torrent as it foamed and
writhed across the roadway. In fair weather
this was a safe enough crossing, and Jim loved
it beyond any words of his to say. He would
pause here while his horse drank, and he him-
self would sit staring at the dream-like valley,
thinking vague and happy thoughts. But to-
night, as he was to learn, the great boulders that
had been placed at the outer edge of the road
had been carried away, and the black water was
an enemy the water which had so often been
his playmate. Midstream, he felt his horse
" Mac! " he called sharply, slapping the ani-
mal encouragingly, " Mac! Pull up! "
But Mac, it seemed, could not pulPap, though
he tried desperately. His feet went out from
under him, and he lay on his side, with the
waters raging about him and bearing him
THE KIDNAPPING 155
toward that desperate edge. Once over that,
they would drop sheer one hundred and fifty feet
upon jagged rocks where the waters twisted and
hissed like angry serpents. Fortunately, Mac
had not gone down quickly, but after a struggle,
and Jim had had time to free himself from the
stirrups. He stood there in the flood now, with
the frantic horse between him and that deadly
fall. The bridle reins were still in his hands,
and he held to them with the instinct of the
born horseman, though what a slender boy could
do with a frightened horse in a raging torrent,
it is not easy to imagine. Jim felt both of them
going, and said to himself: " One second more
and I'll let old Mac go and get out of this
if I can! " when suddenly the great body of the
horse caught and held. Jim felt that the animal
was bracing himself against something strong
and firm, and he let go the reins to escape the
plunging hoofs. But the next moment, freed
from the horse's sustaining back, he found him-
self swept from his feet and caught in the ter-
rible swirl of the waters. Then, for the first
time, he screamed "Hi! Hi!" though he
knew there was small chance that Hi could hear
him. And at that instant, a terrible thought
flashed over his mind. What if Hi had not been
able to cross the ford! What if he, too, had gone
"Hi! Hi!" shouted Jim in his throat. A
thousand wicked voices of the storm answered
him; the cruel hands of the flood clutched him.
He swept on, closed his eyes, and in his terrified,
dry little mind thought:
" I reckon that's about all of me! "
And then, somehow, miraculously, he too was
caught and held. True, the waters were pound-
ing him, he was smothering with the spray, but
at least he was not being tossed over the brink.
He thrust out desperate hands and clutched the
obstruction. It was a tree in full leaf, which had
been swept from the upper fall and had some-
how snarled there on the rocks. It was what
had saved Mac, and at the end of a frightened,
determined struggle, Jim, standing ankle deep,
in the red mud of the road, knew that it had
saved him too. And there, at his hand, tremb-
ling, but safe, was good old Mac.
It seemed strange to Jim that his throat could
be so dry when his very skin was soaking and
the heavens were emptying torrents all about
THE KIDNAPPING 157
him, but it was all he could do to shriek out:
"Hi! Oh, Hi!"
No voice answered. " He's gone," sobbed
Jim. " He's gone over the fall! Oh, what shall
But just then above the road came a sharp
voice in his ears.
" Shut up there, ninny! I'm here all right."
" Where you'll step on me if you don't watch
out. I guess my arm's broke, Jim. Nannie
went down at the ford, but she got out and ran
away from me. Piked for home, I guess. I hit
something, and crawled out, and then I sort o'
went to sleep. One arm's acting funny it
" Oh, Hi," cried Jim, " never mind if your
arm is broke; that can be mended. But if you'd
gone over "
" No glue would mend me then," answered
Hi. He struggled to his feet, and the two boys
went on in the darkness. They left Mac to
plunge up the road as best suited him. Both
had cast away their lanterns after the rain and
wind had put out the light, and they tramped on
in the blur of mist which told them that they
were in the very heart of a cloud. Sometimes
Hi could not keep back a groan, though he tried
" You just brace up, Hi, you hear? " said Jim
with affectionate roughness. " You're in luck
to only break one bone. My goodness, what's
one bone when you've hundreds of 'em in your
Hi set his strong white teeth together and
trudged on. The way seemed like an endless bad
dream. But finally he heard Jim say: " We're
here." And they were. They were in the good
dry cabin, and Hi had sunk on the settle while
Jim lighted the lamps and lit the fire. That
done, he went out to the horse shed and came
back with the cheering news that both horses
were in their stalls.
" And now," he said, " let's see what we can
do about your arm. I know there's arnica in
"Arnica!" cried Hi in anguished contempt.
" Do you think rubbing will do that any good? "
He dangled the limp lower arm before Jim's
" No," said a gruff voice, " rubbing won't
THE KIDNAPPING 159
help it none, but setting will, and I'm the man
to do it for you."
The boys turned as quick as owls, and there,
standing in the doorway was a tall, dripping
man in homespun mountain clothes.
"Why, Buck Bab!" cried Jim, "Where did
you come from? "
Hi's eyes started from his head.
" Ain't you the man that chased me with a gun
the other night? " he asked.
Bab wrung the rain out of his hair and grinned
" Maybe I am," he said, " and maybe I ain't.
But one thing's certain: I'm going to set that
there arm of yours, son." To Jim he said,
" You go find me a shingle. Rip one off the
house if you can't do any other way, and I'll
take the liberty of tearing up one of your ma's
old sheets." He bustled about the cabin getting
everything in readiness, and then he came over
to Hi, smiling curiously.
" 'Twon't be very bad," he said almost ten-
derly. He stooped over him and seemed to tap
him gently on the jaw somewhere below the ear.
Jim couldn't make out what was going on. Sud-
denly Hi seemed to be asleep, and he was mak-
ing no objection at all as Buck Bab's great hands
busied themselves with drawing the broken arm
from the coat and shirt that hampered them.
"What have you done, Buck Bab!" de-
manded Jim, thoroughly frightened. " What's
the matter with Hi? "
" Now, don't worry, McBirney," answered
Bab gruffly. " I just fixed your friend so he
wouldn't be inconvenienced by what I'm about
to do. He's just taking a little nap to order.
He'll be all right in a minute or two, and by
that time I'll have his arm set as tight as a trap.
You didn't want to hear his hollering and cry-
ing, did you? "
"No o," said Jim doubtfully. He drew
nearer to his friend and stood there ready to
give any help that Bab should need.
In ten minutes it was all over. The arm was
in place and held there safely with bandages
and splints. Hi's wet clothes had been dragged
from him and he had been wrapped in a warm
blanket. His eyes began to flutter and a sick
look to come into his white face.
" Lie still," growled Bab to him, " and think
of nothing. And you, McBirney, I suppose you
come up here to look after the stock. Well, get
THE KIDNAPPING 161
out that lantern and find the milk pails, and I'll
help you. After we've fixed up the animals,
we'll get some supper."
" Well," thought Jim to himself, as he obeyed
the man, " who would believe it? I know pa
wouldn't, and I don't believe ma would, though
she always says there's some good in everybody.
Buck Bab a moonshiner, and not denying it!
And yet here he is, helping me out! It seems
like a night with a lot of queer dreams in it.
Oh, my! Poor Zalie! Oh, Zalie, where can
you be ! "
Haystack Thompson lay in bed making un-
complimentary remarks about the rain.
" It's just took away the last chanct we had
of following up that poor little mountain lass,"
said he to his old clock. " If it hadn't been for
this tarnation storm I'd 'a' tramped back to that
there dell where I come on them two lasses
making eyes at that rattler, and it would have
been mighty funny if I couldn't have found out
something about what happened there."
He reached out for his bag of tobacco, and
filling his pipe and lighting it, tried to bring
some cheer into his damp cabin by smoking very
" I'd have gone over the whole ground," he
mused. " I'd 'a' pretended I was walking on
with that nice little Miss Carin, talking and
smiling; I'd thought out how the other lass hung
behind, looking at the trees and flowers, and I'd
never have give up till I made out why she
HAYSTACK THOMPSON 163
didn't reach that church. But here we are,
everything swept smooth as sandpaper with the
He fell to wishing that for once in his life
there was some one to build the fire for him and
get the breakfast.
" It's lonesome business," said he aloud, " be-
ing pa and ma and all the children just by your-
self. Looks hoggish, now, don't it? I wish I'd
divided up and just been the man of the house,
and let some other folks take the rest of the
parts. I'm a no-count old fool, anyhow. No
one but a plumb idiot would 'a' let that there
girl be snatched away like that yesterday. A
blamed, sapless old fool, that's what I be! Me
with nothing but a fiddle to give me an excuse
for living! For my farming would make you
sick to look at. The neighbors snigger when
they see it. Well, what do you think of that
now, for a man to reach my age and have noth-
ing but a fiddle that he cares for! "
He flung out of bed in disgust, whipped into
his old clothes, lighted the fire which pro-
ceeded to smoke badly and got out his bacon
and his bag of meal.
" I'm just plumb tired of cooking alone," he
1 64 AZALEA
announced to a squirrel that paused for a mo-
ment before his door, sitting erect on his
haunches and casting a wistful glance from his
bright eyes. Haystack tossed him some ground
nuts which he kept in a bag for that purpose,
and then turned angrily to his own meal. Half-
way through it, he laid down his knife and fork,
and a light broke over his face.
" I know what I'll do," he said, " I'll go find
that little lass. I'll make myself of some use,
that's what I'll do. See here, Betsy," he went
on, turning to his violin and speaking to it as
if it were a little sister, " you and me'll start out
and find that there poor lass, you hear? We've
been playing stick-in-the-mud about long
enough. What we need is to get a move on us
and to go out and see something of the world.
What you say, Bet? "
Just then a log fell on the hearth, and from
Betsy's answering strings came forth a delicate
wail. Haystack took it to mean that they
should go, and when he had made his cabin
tidy and he took much more pains with it
than usual he put on clean homespun, packed
a change of clothing in a square of blue denim,
fastened this to a stick which he threw over his
HAYSTACK THOMPSON 165
shoulder, and taking Betsy under the other arm,
started out on a quest.
At about the same time the sheriff at Lee
and Pa McBirney and Mr. Carson and Elder
Mills and Mr. Pickett and a great many other
persons were bestirring themselves to the same
end. They telegraphed here and they tele-
phoned there, and all over the county the good
neighbors were keeping an outlook. Ma Mc-
Birney and Mrs. Carson kept together and
talked over this and that phase of the matter,
and both of them poured out their kind hearts in
good wishes, as if their love would build a wall
around the lost child to keep her from harm.
" Let no evil touch her, dear Lord," prayed
Mary McBirney over and over again. " Thy
power is everywhere, and Thy love is all pro-
tecting. Spread Thy love about her like a cloak
and keep her from harm."
And that was just about the time that Azalea,
aroused from her thin and worried sleep by the
first streaks of the dawn that streamed to her
over the level low country, drew the dirty bed-
clothes closer about her chin, and tried to make
out whether or not it was all a bad dream. Tige,
the bulldog, crouching there at the tent door,
1 66 AZALEA
and snarling if she but moved, certainly seemed
like a nightmare. Betty Bowen with her
frowsy head and her horrid red flannel bed-
gown, sleeping with her mouth open on the
shake-down next to Azalea, and the miserable
old show wagon outside, with lumbering Rafe
Bowen, the son of Betty, snoring in rivalry to
the robins not that his opera in any way re-
sembled theirs was something worse than or-
" It isn't a dream," sighed Azalea, with deep,
terrible conviction. " It's true."
She went over the sharp little drama of all
that had happened the day before; remembered
the sweet hollow in the woods where she and
Carin had gone, the fright they had had at the
snake, the appearance of that queer, kind old
Haystack Thompson; she remembered how she
had followed them a little way, and then had
stopped for some wake robins which were grow-
ing in a sunny little spot and which she had
thought would look lovely at Ma McBirneys'
belt; and then had come the strange whimper-
ing of an animal in pain. She had thought it a
dog caught in a rabbit trap, and she had gone
toward it, and as she went on, the sound seemed
HAYSTACK THOMPSON 167
to move too, and it grew more agonizing as if
the animal were being tortured beyond anything
it could stand. And then, suddenly, from among
the great trees, had come Sisson, the " show-
man," her old enemy. He had his huge hand
over her mouth in a minute, and had pushed
her before him, making her run against her will,
and presently they were among all the old com-
panions of her wandering years. Rafe Bowen,
who had run away three years before, was back
too. He was a big fellow with broad shoulders
and a sullen face. And there was a new woman
to take her mother's place, Azalea thought.
They had laughed at her and told Sisson not to
be too rough with her.
" You treat her like she was a mad steer,
Hank," Betty Bowen had said. " Don't scare
the young un like that."
Sisson let go of her and pushing her a little
way from him broke into a roar of laughter. It
made cold chills run over the girl. She knew
that when Sisson laughed it was when some one
else was in trouble. Nearly the only thing he
really enjoyed was tormenting some one.
" She ran out to meet me," he cried, roaring
with that cruel laughter, his eyes full of evil
1 68 AZALEA
pleasure. "Just toddled out to meet me, she
did. You never saw anything like it. Couldn't
stay away from her old friend, Zalie couldn't.
Once a show girl, always a show girl, eh? "
Azalea had been learning lessons of self-con-
trol since she had been with Mary McBirney,
but now her old-time temper flamed up in her.
She felt the familiar wave of fire sweeping
across her brain and she screamed out angry
things at Sisson.
" I'm no show girl! " she protested. " I never
wanted to be a show girl. I think you are
wicked, wicked, Hank Sisson! You've taken
me away from the best people I ever knew and
they'll be so frightened! Oh, please, Mrs.
Bowen, make him let me go. Oh, Hank Sisson
I hate you! I hate you! Oh, why isn't my
mamma alive? You wouldn't dare treat me
like this if she was alive. You bad, bad man! "
" You can see for yourself what a fine per-
former she is," Sisson sneered. " High tragedy,
that's her line."
" Oh, Mrs. Bowen," wailed the girl, " mamma
was good to you. Won't you help me? "
" Turning on the tear taps now," grinned
HAYSTACK THOMPSON 169
" Oh, shut up," snapped the new woman.
"What did you expect the girl to do? Didn't
think she'd rejoice, did you? Leave her be, you
Sisson. You've got her, that's the main thing;
now give her a chance to cool down a little. I'm
sorry for the young un, that's what I am tak-
ing her away from a good home to tag along
with a lot like us ! "
Sisson raised his heavy fist and made as if to
strike the \voman.
" You take your choice," he growled. " Shut
up or be shut up."
" While we're rowing around here, Hank,"
broke in Betty Bowen, " the folks will be after
us. Do we carry out our plan, or don't we? "
" We carry it out and we do it quick," an-
nounced Sisson. Nor was Azalea long in rind-
ing out what the plan was. Taking it for
granted that as soon as Azalea was missed, the
Sisson All Star Combination would be under
suspicion, it was the intention of Sisson and his
troupe to go on up into the mountains ; but Betty
Bowen and her son Rafe were to take the best
team of horses, and the wagon with its load of
conveniences, hide by night in the woods, and
then make their way before dawn into South
Carolina. The state line was not more than
twelve miles from where they then were, and
once across that, they were comparatively safe.
This program had been carried out rapidly
more rapidly, in fact, than was at first intended.
Azalea was compelled to go in the old covered
wagon and to lie down there under a pile of
odds and ends. Betty sat beside her son Rafe
and directed their course. They had struck an
old wood-road, and wound along through the
heart of a silent forest, meeting no one. So much
more solitary was the road than they had sup-
posed it would be that Betty urged her son to
press on. The horses were young and strong -
a new team which Azalea had not before seen
and the result was that by twelve o'clock that
night they had camped in an out-of-the-way
grove across the line dividing the two Carolinas.
The mountains were left behind, and an almost
level plain stretched around them. But the un-
derbrush in this grove of poor trees was thick,
and as Betty intended to do her cooking at night
and to show no smoke from her camp fire to
curious strangers during the day, they felt that
there was little danger of their being found.
The rain that had drenched the valley of Lee
HAYSTACK THOMPSON 171
had thrown out no more than a light shower
over the spot where the Bowens kept Azalea
prisoner, and while the girl lay on her rickety
bed wondering what had happened back at
home, she did not dream of the wild experiences
through which her friends Jim and Hi had been
passing. It was not of them that she thought
chiefly though she knew how they would be
fuming about her and putting plans on foot for
her recovery but of Ma McBirney and her
" I'm so used to having bad times," thought
the little girl wrapping her arms tight about her
body as if for company, " that I can stand them.
But Ma McBirney isn't used to them. She'll
just fret herself crazy."
She had perfect confidence in the ability of
her friends to find her. She had thought all that
out in that strange, dangerous drive at night
through the old wood-road. People like Pa Mc-
Birney and Mr. Carson weren't the kind to give
up hunting for her.
" I've just got to lie low," thought this child
who had seen too much of the ways of a prowl-
ing company of folk, " and take care of myself
the best way I can, and I'll be found. I'll be
back in Ma McBirney's house all right and
tight in a little while. I'm going to believe that
and say it over and over. I'm not going to be
scared, nor sorry, nor anything. Jim and Hi
will think I'm a silly thing to let myself be
picked up and carried away like that, anyway.
They'll think I haven't a bit of grit. But I'll
show them I'm not such a stupid goose after all."
She made up her mind, too, that she would
try not to think too much about Ma McBirney.
If she did she would get to crying again, and
she didn't want to cry. She wanted to think,
and to watch, and to be wise and act at the right
moment. And having reached that conclusion,
she sat up in bed with something almost like
brightness on her face. And at that Tige, the
bulldog, sat up too and showed all of his teeth
as he gave a low growl. Tige was a good dog
according to his lights; and his lights told him
that when his master, Rafe Bowen according
to Tige, the most wonderful master in the world
told him to " watch," why then, he was to
watch; nay he was to sleep with one eye open
and both ears alert.
" For goodness sake, Tige," whispered Aza-
lea, leaning forward and putting out her hand
HAYSTACK THOMPSON 173
toward the dog, " be sensible, can't you? I've
got to move sometimes, haven't I?"
Betty Bowen threw her brown arms up over
her frowsy head.
" Keep still, you, Zalie," she snarled sleepily.
" Don't you see I'm dead beat? "
So for two hours longer the restless girl had
to lie still in her bed, though it became almost
an agony to do so, while the tired show woman
slept on and on. After a time, however, the lit-
tle camp came to life. Rafe got up and de-
manded breakfast. Betty straggled out, heavy-
eyed and slatternly, and set forth some cold food
which Azalea could not swallow. The horses
were fed, the wagon greased, and all was got in
readiness for a hasty flight if necessary. Azalea
helped as they directed her, and she managed to
find a chance to wash carefully as Ma McBirney
had taught her, and she combed her hair with a
little side comb, and made herself look as well
as she could.
" You've got mighty fine ways since you've
been living out," remarked Betty Bowen teas-
ingly. Azalea looked at her as candidly as she
would have looked at Ma McBirney, for some-
way, in spite of all her anger, she was feeling
sorry for Bet Bowen this morning.
"Yes, Mrs. Bowen," she said. " I have been
taught some nice ways. Mrs. McBirney is the
neatest woman you ever saw. Of course my
own mamma tried to teach me things, but what
was the use, when we didn't have any way to
keep nice? You can't keep clean and fresh on
the road, can you? "
Betty looked at the girl in sullen surprise.
She had not expected to be met in this neigh-
borly fashion. She thought to herself that if
she were being held a prisoner, no one could
get her to " chirk up " like that.
" No, you bet you can't," she said in answer
to the girl's question. " Now me, I used to wash
my hair and brush it, and keep my hands pretty.
I wasn't always a battered old ship of the desert
like I be now." Bet could be rather picturesque
in her speech when she had a mind. " Fact is,
I reckon I had too much good looks and too lit-
tle sense once on a time. Both the sense and the
looks have been knocked out of me now. I
guess you or anybody can see that."
" Whatever made you take up with this show
life, Mrs. Bowen? " the girl asked. They were
HAYSTACK THOMPSON 175
sitting together then on the ground, their little
odd tasks being all done. Azalea was playing
idly with some pine needles, braiding them to-
gether after a fashion she had, and weaving them
into a little mat. In the old days she would have
sat idle, but Ma McBirney had got her into the
way of occupying herself with one thing and
" What made me take to it? " demanded Bet,
turning her haggard eyes on her companion,
" Why, the same thing that made your mother
take to it."
There was something threatening and angry
in the way she spoke, and Azalea looked at her
with fear in her eyes. She could feel her heart-
beats fairly strangling her, but she had the
courage to seize at the remark. Ever since she
was old enough to think at all, she had been
puzzled and bewildered by the things about
her. And -now it seemed she might be told
something of all she wished to know.
" And why was that, Betty? " she asked softly.
" Why did my mamma have to wander around
and act in a show? "
Mrs. Bowen drew an old rag of a shawl about
her shoulders and leaned back against a tree.
She seemed to be trying to make up her mind
whether to tell this child the truth or not. But
finally she gave a little nod.
" I'm just going to up and tell you why," she
said. " I think it's coming to you to know. She
did it because she married a poor shiftless coot
of a man, the black sheep of a way-up family,
and she done it against the wishes of all her
folks. She ran away from home with him, and
she took care of him while he lazed around and
wouldn't do nothing, and she looked after him
like he was the best man in the world, and stuck
to him when he gambled away all she earned.
And then you was born, and she had to run away
from him to get money enough to care for you."
" Oh," gasped Azalea, her hand at her heart
and a sick feeling stealing over her.
" And I will say," went on Bet, " that she
cared for you as tender as if you was respectable
folks living in the finest house in town. She just
done the best she could ; and she went along with
us because we didn't object to having a baby in
the troupe. We began training you like a little
puppy as soon as you had any mimicry in you,
and the folks that came to the show liked it.
Her and you was drawing cards, I can tell you.
HAYSTACK THOMPSON 177
And for all of her broken heart she was nice
and cheerful except when we'd go to the towns
near by where she used to live. Then she was
afraid she'd meet some of them that used to
know her in the old days. But at last, when she
found she was going to die, she seemed glad we
was edging along toward her home."
" And where \vas that," breathed rather than
asked Azalea. " Where was her old home? "
" Law, child, don't you know that? Why, her
old home was at Lee. That's where your grand-
father Atherton come from from Lee."
" My grandfather Atherton? "
" Sure, Zalie. Didn't your ma tell you that?
Well, she was a close one. I don't know as she
told us all, either, but we got hold of the story
one way and another. When her father skipped
out to parts unknown, owing to some trouble he
got into at the time of the war, his wife she
was his second wife, and only a young thing
went back to her folks in Alabama for a while.
And then they was made so poor by the war that
she took shame to be dependent on them. So
she came back to this part of the country, some-
where, and taught school, and took care of her
little girl. And that little girl was your ma.
She was a pretty little thing, made to live in
luxury, I allow. I suppose she sort of honed
for grand ways and grand clothes. Anyway,
when your pa, Jack Knox, who come of an old
family and was handsome and taking in his
ways, came along, she married him. She didn't
know the drinking and the shiftlessness had
come down to him as well as the fine manners
and the handsome face. I heard your grand-
mother fought and fought against them two
marrying, but they would have their way. So
that's your story, missy, and I do think it was
coming to you to know it."
Azalea stared into the woman's face with
" Oh, thank you, thank you, Mrs. Bowen. I
am glad to know; I do think I had a right to be
told. But just think, I was in that old house the
other day that beautiful old house that be-
longed to my grandfather. ( The Shoals ' it is
called. And it's very, very queer, but I felt all
the time as if I had been in it before. But of
course I never had. You can't inherit memo-
ries, can you Mrs. Bowen, the way you do the
features of your face, or or habits? "
But at that moment, Betty Bowen's great hulk
fe\ . . \
"So that's your story, missy."
HAYSTACK THOMPSON 179
of a son came sauntering back from what he
called a " spying."
" There ain't nobody in sight so far as I can
make out," he announced sullenly. " And now
suppose you two quiet down a little. I want to
He whistled his dog to him and pointed with
a big forefinger at Azalea.
" Watch, Tige," he commanded. And he and
the dog stretched themselves side by side, the
man to sleep, and the dog to keep guard.
Azalea felt a wave of trembling creeping over
her, and she turned her eyes once more to Bet.
"Oh, Mrs. Bowen," she whispered, "what
have I done that you should treat me like this? "
But Mrs. Bowen lifted her ringer in warning.
"Just keep still, Zalie," she answered, also
under her breath, " and you won't be hurt. Sis-
son's a man that hits back when he's hit. He
was all-fired mad at your being took from him
and he swore he'd have you back. He seemed
to have to do it to keep up his pride. So now
he's got you, and I'm to keep you, that's all."
" But how can you, Betty? How can you? I
wouldn't do anything mean to you."
Betty Bowen looked at her darkly.
" Sisson is kin of mine," she said, as if that
settled the question. " There ain't nobody else
in the world for me to turn to as I know of."
A lump came into Azalea's throat as she
looked at Betty. To think of having no friend
but Sisson! Something warm began to stir in
Azalea's heart. She did not know that the name
of it was pity.
Mrs. McBirney sat at her loom. Eyes, hands
and feet were busy; but no matter how busy she
kept them she could not keep her mind and
heart at ease. She had come back home when
she found that the search for her missing girl
would be a long one, and from early morning
till late at night she kept about her tasks. She
had a theory that there was nothing like work
to help a troubled mind to forgetfulness, and
she put her theory to the full test.
Pa McBirney went about his tasks, too, and
his face grew careworn as he saw the old rest-
lessness and torment coming back in his wife's
" That's just the way she carried on after your
sister Mollie passed away," he said to Jim.
" You wouldn't think she'd take Azalea's loss
so hard, but then it's kind o' emptied her life
" Well," said Jim in an old way he sometimes
1 82 AZALEA
had, " if she knew Azalea was dead and safe,
perhaps she wouldn't feel so dreadful bad. But
not knowing where a body is that's what I
call tormenting. When I think of the things
that might be happening to Azalea her maybe
going hungry or being beat with sticks, or good-
ness knows what all it makes me as nervous
as a bat. Hi's just the same way, too."
Hi's broken arm had made it impossible for
him to return to the mill, and he was spending
his time with the McBirneys. He seemed to
be actually greedy to learn all he could of this
pleasant home. He listened to all Ma McBir-
ney had to say, as if her words were gold; he
watched Pa McBirney about his work; he
played chess with Jim and studied Jim's school-
books under Mrs. McBirney's direction.
Mrs. McBirney wrote home to his mother for
him, and told her all that had happened to him.
At first Hi objected.
" My uncle Hank Sisson will be after her first
chance he gets, to find out where I am, and if
she knows, he'll worm it out of her," the boy
" That's neither here nor there, Hi," Ma Mc-
Birney had insisted. " She's just aching to know
THE ESCAPE 183
what's happening to her boy, and I'm going to
let her know. Why, you ought to be with your
ma, Hi. Somehow or other we've got to get the
family down here. Now, when your arm's well,
you can go back to the mill, and perhaps some
of the other children are old enough to take a
hand too; and what with all the tourists that
come to Lee, your ma could sure find work
washing, or sewing, or some such thing."
" Oh, my, wouldn't that be fun! " sighed Hi.
" See here, Mary," Pa McBirney had broke
in, " what makes you lift up that boy's hopes the
way you do? Like as not they'll all be dashed
" What a-way should they be dashed for,
father? Ain't it right that Hi and his ma should
be together? And don't you believe that what's
right will come to pass? "
Pa shook his head doubtfully. " I don't know
as that has been according to my experience,"
" Of course it has, Thomas. You know it has!
And everything's going to come right for Hi -
and for Azalea, Thomas and for you and Jim
and me! You'll see! You mustn't break down
my faith, Thomas."
1 84 AZALEA
And Thomas McBirney, looking at her face
with its look as of a light burning through it,
knew that he must not, indeed.
The second Saturday after Azalea's disap-
pearance, a letter came to the Lee post office for
Pa McBirney from Haystack Thompson. It
read like this.
" Deer Nabor:
" How many wagons did the Sisson All Star
Combinashun have when you saw them last?
Adres me with the show.
C. W. Thompson."
Pa McBirney made use of the telegraph for
the first time in his life, being moved to the act
by the insistence of Mr. Carson. He responded
" There were three wagons. Why? Wire my
And the answer came:
" Because now he's got two only. I am
fiddling for the show."
"Good old Haystack!" cried Mr. Carson
when he read the telegraphic message. And he
himself ventured on a dispatch to Mr. Thomp-
THE ESCAPE 185
" Keep on fiddling," he wired. " The third
wagon will come back."
Then Mr. Carson rode home hard with the
news to his Carin; and Mr. McBirney put his
tired horses up the long mountain road to carry
the word to his Mary. And Azalea's friends
took heart, and hoped on and prayed on; and
the sheriff made his more or less languid in-
quiries, and the newspapers printed articles, and
hundreds of people who did not know Azalea at
all were very much interested.
But all this was not greatly helping Azalea
through the long days. They kept out of sight
as much as possible Betty Bowen and her odd
" family." By creeping along old roads and
only stopping at the most out-of-the-way vil-
lages they seemed to escape the curiosity of the
people. Indeed, many of those they came across
seemed not to have energy enough for anything
so lively as curiosity. Azalea always had taken
an interest in the world, and the best part of
the old life had been, to her, the quiet journeys
along the roads, with the glimpses they gave of
farmhouses and cabins and little towns. Now
that she had come to know so many warm-
hearted new people, and that her own heart was
1 86 AZALEA
aglow with the remembrance of it all, her inter-
est in the homes she passed was keener than ever.
So long as she was allowed to sit where she could
look out, she did not greatly mind the days. In
spite of the constant watch kept over her, and
of the fact that she had not dreamed it would be
so long before she was restored to her friends,
she would not be downcast, and it was only when
Bet gave the word that they were to halt and
go into camp for a day that the girl found life
To be sure she grew very weary of going over
and over the same thoughts; of wondering and
wondering why no one came to her aid; of
thinking what would happen to her when they
had caught up with Sisson and his show. But
when the dread and the fear were at their worst,
she remembered certain words that Ma Mc-
Birney had spoken to her.
" No matter what comes to you, Azalea," she
had told her once, " you keep your heart full of
God's light and of God's love, and nothing can
really harm you. You mind what I say, child.
You do that and the angels of the Lord will
compass you about."
If Betty Bowen had been her enemy she could
THE ESCAPE 187
have broken the child's heart, or let her become
exposed to some of those vague dangers which
Azalea half imagined. But she was not her
enemy. In her tired, discouraged way she
seemed to like her. And she admired her. She
used to command the child to sing and Azalea
sang the sweet songs she had learned from Carin
and from Ma McBirney.
They had crept up into the mountains by
roundabout ways, and were now feeling their
way toward the Sisson All Star Combination,
the precise location of which they did not know.
When Azalea learned that, in spite of herself,
she began to feel anxious. Little by little the
courage in her heart oozed out, leaving her a
sad and trembling child. If the old-time wan-
derings with the show had been hateful to her
when she was with her mother, she knew they
would be much, much more so now that she was
alone and unfriended. It is possible for chil-
dren to feel black despair, and something like
that came to Azalea. It was evident to her that
her friends had failed to get on her track, and
in the long, idle, sodden hours of thought, she
decided that her escape depended on herself.
Little by little the watch set over her had
1 88 AZALEA
grown less strict. She had made no attempt to
get away, and Betty and her son had come to
count her in as a part of their company. They
could not, indeed, imagine what would become
of her should she leave them. Sour and bitter
as their natures were, they really could not help
liking this winsome girl, whose voice and man-
ner seemed to speak to them day by day of bet-
ter things than they had ever known. And lik-
ing her, they no doubt felt that she liked them.
At least, as they traveled together, or made camp
in some wild, beautiful mountain cove, or
worked side by side around the camp fire, she
gave no sign that was not friendly. Even Tige
had come to watch her in a spirit of defense
rather than of attack.
So one night when they had been sitting late
before the camp fire, and she had gone into the
tent to go to bed, she crept beneath the canvas
at the rear and stole away through the woods.
If it had not been for the crackling of the camp
fire, she might have been overheard; and if it
had not been for the growing weakness which
kept poor weary Bet drowsing sleepily there be-
fore the blaze, her escape would soon have been
discovered. But as it was, not even the alert
THE ESCAPE 189
Tige had a hint of her going. He lay snoring
and nuzzling before the fire, dimly aware that
his master was near, and asking for no greater
happiness. And that master sat there beside
him, his head in his hands, thinking thoughts
that for him were strange indeed. He had come
back from a life of wandering and self-indul-
gence to prey upon his mother. She was a clever
one so he put it and if she wanted him to
keep out of mischief, let her find some way to
care for him! But now, after these weeks in
the company of the young girl who looked out
at life with kind and trusting eyes, and who was
polite even to the woman who kept her prisoner,
Rafe began to see things in a different light. He
had meant to torment that girl, and he had
thought that he would have pleasure in doing
it. But he had, someway, not been able to carry
out his intention. She had seen through him-
had believed in his good nature in spite of every-
thing. And he knew now that he wanted to be
the way she thought him. He wanted her to
think of him as something besides a bully and
jailer. He wished his mother were different
from what she was; wished from the bottom of
his heart that the two of them were something
better than wandering vagabonds. If they had
lived in a proper house, if his father had not left
them, if he could have had a sister like Azalea,
he would have made a very different fellow of
himself from what he was.
He wondered if, after all, it was too late.
There were things he knew how to do. If his
mother would give up this wandering and settle
down in some quiet little place and keep Azalea
with her, and if they could have really good
things to eat, and a hearth to sit before rainy
nights, an-d clothes that were decent and clean,
why perhaps, after all, a fellow could " get
shet " of the drinking of corn whiskey and the
gambling and all. Rafe was young still, and
the little kind angel of his better impulses had
not all been slain by his black selfishness and his
coarse appetites. So he sat and dreamed before
the fire, and was somehow washed almost inno-
cent again by the great sea of goodness that for-
ever stretches about us, and in which we may, if
we will, bathe and purify ourselves. The night
and the stars, the wind and the fire were there
to help him find himself. And while he
dreamed, Azalea clipped on through the thick-
growing laurel, skirted a little spring-fed pond,
THE ESCAPE 191
and finding the wagon-road, fled down the
mountain with feet that felt as light as feathers
as light as her heart. All of her courage had
come rushing back. She said to herself that she
would never be taken again never. She was
not going to have her life spoiled. It was her
life and she meant to " run it " to suit herself.
And as she fled, it seemed as if the little brown,
thin hands of her dead mother were held out to
help her; and as if the strong, kind hands of
Ma McBirney were stretched in welcome; and
the good, freckled hands of Jim and Hi beat
together in encouragement.
Yes, they were patting " juba " for her, were
Jim and Hi, and to the patter, patter, her feet
sped on. She was not afraid of the night. She
liked it. The stars saw what she was doing and
were glad. The night bird that called out, kept
the woods from being too solitary. The very
wind was in her favor, and pushed at her back.
Sometimes she stopped to rest, and she would
have liked to sleep. But it seemed foolish to do
that. The point now, was to get safe away.
" I was caught napping once," she said to
herself with a dry little laugh, " but I don't mean
to be again."
Along toward morning she came on a little
village one she had not seen before. There
was not a light anywhere, but the houses clus-
tered together like comfortable sheep in the
darkness, and she felt happier for being among
them. Now that she was safe with these other
human creatures, her weariness and sleepiness
almost overcame her. It was growing chilly as
the morning air quickened though as yet there
was no hint in the sky of coming light and
she shivered in her thin clothes. She still wore
the white frock that had been so dainty and
sweet the day of the Singing, but which was now
a dusty rag. Her hat she had left behind her.
The hair Ma McBirney had taught her to brush
every night was full of the dust of the road. All
of that pleasant cleanliness which she recently
had been taught, had been of necessity lost in
the life she had been leading. She felt ashamed
as she thought how she would look to strangers,
who probably would think her a miserable vaga-
bond. However, her state could be remedied
in time. Now the thing was to get in 01;: of the
cold; for she was drenched with sweat and her
damp clothes clung to her.
She turned into one of the little yards, and
THE ESCAPE 193
going around to the rear of the house, tried the
handle of a shed door. It yielded, and she
stepped into a dark little room smelling of fire-
wood. At the far side was an open door, and
she groped her w r ay to it and stood on a little
framed-in porch with wire netting on the one
exposed side. And there, neatly made, was a
cot bed, waiting, it seemed, for some weary child
to crawl in between its w 7 arm blankets. Azalea
took off her worn and dusty shoes and her dis-
graceful frock, and stretched herself between the
comforts. The next moment she was sound
A few hours later, the Sisson All Star Com-
bination, rattling down the mountain side, came
upon the wagon and the tent of Betty Bowen,
ranged side by side in a comfortable little pocket
away back from the road the same road that
Azalea had taken a mile lower down, after her
hurried taking of the short cuts.
Sisson greeted the encampment with a whoop,
and brought Rafe, shock-headed and heavy-
eyed, from his bed of straw in the wagon.
" Well," said Sisson, " you ain't getting up
early to hang out the wash, be you? Where's
Bet? Where's the girl?"
Rafe pointed at the tent with his thumb.
" In there, I reckon. We ail sat late last
night around the fire."
" Huh! Mighty social, ain't you? Had any
trouble with that girl? "
Rafe frowned and shook his head.
" Well, get 'em out of the tall grass," com-
manded Sisson. " I want to see 'em."
Rafe went to the tent door and called, but Bet
was sleeping heavily, and her son, looking at her
jaded face, hesitated to arouse her. It was
Azalea whom Sisson wanted to see, and Rafe
said to himself that Sisson would have to treat
her well, or there would be trouble. He could
see the girl's bed bunched up as if she were
rolled underneath the bed clothes, but when he
called there was no answer, and at last, half
frightened, he went over to awaken her. But
when he got closer he discovered there was no
one in the bed. The clothes were tossed up as
if some one lay there, and he saw at a
glance that they had been purposely made to
look that way. For a minute his heart sank;
and then, suddenly, with a strange new unselfish-
ness, it lightened. Azalea had slipped from
Sisson's clutches after all. Rafe drew his belt a
THE ESCAPE 195
little tighter, pushed his hat on the back of his
head, and going out, faced the company.
" The girl's lit out," he said briefly.
" What? " screamed Sisson. And before Rafe
could say more, a man the tallest, it seemed
to Rafe, that he ever had set his eyes upon, came
stalking around from behind one of the wagons.
He was hatless, and revealed a startling shock
of hair, and underneath his arm he carried a
fiddle in its case.
"What you say, you speckled cub?" he
" The girl's lit out," Rafe repeated. He
grinned at them cheerfully, and was still grin-
ning as Sisson advanced with fight in his eye.
" Ain't you onto your job any better than
that? " he yelled, still coming on. Rafe looked
almost languid as he watched him, but just as
Sisson got ready for a rush at him, the great arm
of the young mountaineer shot forward, striking
his " boss " cleanly between the eyes. And down
in the dust went the head of the Sisson All Star
Combination. Every one except the man with
the violin laughed. He seemed hardly to have
noticed Sisson's downfall. He turned his pierc-
ing eyes on the young man and said in a voice
as cold and keen as a sword-edge:
" Tell me where the girl is."
That new, strange gathering of little good an-
gels conspired again to make Rafe answer:
" I don't know, sir. She went into that tent
last night. That's the last I seen of her. I didn't
set the dog to watch last night I got tired of
treating that little thing like she was a convict.
So she's slipped away."
Something very like applause came from the
All Stars, and it grew a little louder as Bet, hav-
ing been awakened by the noise, appeared at the
door. They were giving her credit, she under-
stood, for having connived at the child's escape.
" But she may be near at hand," continued the
man with the fiddle.
" I reckon not, sir. Her bed was fixed up to
look like she was in it. She's lit out all right."
" Then I'll do the same," said Haystack
Thompson. He reached in one of the wagons
and drew out a few clothes tied in a square of
homespun. " So long, folks," he said. " Hope
you'll enjoy yourselves."
The All Stars stared and forgot their man-
ners, so that " Haystack " had to make his way
THE ESCAPE 197
on down the mountain with no one to say good-
" So he was spying out the girl the whole
time! " said they to each other.
But what they thought or knew was of no
consequence to Haystack now. He swung on
down the road, peering here and there, and
hallooing at the top of his lungs every few min-
"Zalie! Zalie McBirney!" he shouted.
" Where you hiding? This is ole Haystack
come to take you home. Don't be afeard, Zalie.
Answer up, that's a good girl."
But no answer came; and a couple of hours
later when he had reached the contented little
town of Barrington, he went to the telegraph
office and with the help of the obliging young
operator sent this message to Mr. Carson.
" Found the third wagon, but not the girl.
Search party going out to-day."
THE SUMMERS FAMILY
The Rev. Mr. Absalom Summers, pastor of
the Methodist church at Harrington, N. C., got
up out of his bed singing. He went to his bath
singing, and singing he hastened to the kitchen
to build the fire for breakfast.
" A mighty fortress is our Lord," he shouted
to the clear, bright morning.
" A bulwark nev-ev-er fail-11-ing."
He did not even stop singing when he knocked
his head against the shed door. Indeed, he
would have felt a little lonesome if he had not
hit it against that jamb, for that battering of his
blond head was a part, so to speak of the morn-
ing ritual. He loomed six feet three in his
knitted hose, and as the door was only six feet in
height, difficulties of one sort or another were
unavoidable. As yet, the door casing had re-
sisted all attacks. All the Rev. Absalom said
was " Ouch! Giminy cricket! " And then with
increased vigor he continued:
THE SUMMERS FAMILY 199
" Our helper he, amid the flood
Of mortal ills pre-vail-11-ing.
For still our ancient foe,
Doth seek to work us woe "
The song died not on the lips of the rev-
erend gentleman, for to say that he sang with
his lips would be to do him an injustice. The
song died in his resounding throat and his mas-
sive lungs, it faded away in his deep diaphram,
and he stood frankly gasping.
The morning being so fair, it had called to
him, and even with his arms laden with good
u light wood," he could not resist the temptation
to step out on the little porch to look at the lacy
clouds winding over an azure sky, and the deli-
cate scarfs of mist fluttering from the shoulders
of the mountains. And then he saw just what
papa bear and mamma bear and baby bear saw
when they came back to their home. He saw
Golden-locks, or rather Hazel-locks, asleep in
the little couch. She was smiling as if she were
dreaming of happy things, but for all of that
she looked very worn and uncared for. The
shoes that stood beside the cot had almost no
soles to them, and the soiled white frock that lay
tumbled at the foot of the bed, was a mere rag.
Her long hair was uncared for, and the deep
rings beneath her eyes were not all from fatigue.
" Well," said he under his breath, " the poor
little thrush the little storm-blown thrush!"
And then he rushed away, because he felt a
great need upon him, which was to tell his wife
Barbara what had happened. It was nothing
less than a pain to him to know anything that
Barbara did not know. So he emptied his arms
of the wood, and dashed back to the bedroom.
"Come!" he commanded. "Come!" His
greenish eyes were shining with the loving light
that was almost always to be seen in them, his
face, as quick with expressions as an actor's, was
literally beaming, and he was gesticulating with
his large hands. "Just come, mamma, quick,"
he pleaded. " Please don't stop to do your hair."
"Me go too! Me go too!" piped the in-
sistent, high-pitched voice of the young person
in the cradle. So without more ado, the Rev.
Absalom gathered his son in his arms, and the
three Summers made an excursion to the back
porch. There they stood at least there two
of them stood, and there the third, safe under his
dad's arm, wriggled and looked at the little
THE SUMMERS FAMILY 201
forlorn, sleeping beauty. Then, because Mrs.
Barbara had a way of finding the right word,
she sighed happily:
" How winsome! " And then: " How for-
" Clean beat out," agreed the Rev. Absalom.
Barbara put a finger on her lips.
" Let her sleep," she said. " She shall sleep
as long as she can, and after that, we'll see what's
to be done. Best lock the shed door, dear, so
she can't get away without our knowing it. She
might be frightened, you know."
Her husband smiled his broadest smile.
" I don't believe she'd be very much fright-
ened," he said. " She's got too much sense.
Now, if I was lost, or had run away from home,
I'd never have the sense to nose out a bed and
get into it. Not I. I'd be lying out in the rain
groaning and sighing."
" Yes, I see you groaning and sighing," re-
torted his wife, pinching his arm as she took the
baby from him. " You'd take a crowbar and
break in the front door of the first house you
came to, and then you'd bless all the people in
the house and crawl in the best bed and go to
She ran with the baby in her arms, away from
his pretended anger, and he turned his attention
once more to the kitchen fire, singing under his
" And though this world with demons rilled,
Should threaten to undo-oo-oo us
The world might be filled with demons, but
it was quite evident that they had not succeeded
in breaking into the house of the Rev. Absalom
Summers. They had not put their clutches on
his little brown wife nor on his golden-haired
baby son. They were not in the bright little
kitchen, where she hastily prepared the morning
meal, and they did not sit down at the table with
the family while the head of the house said
grace in clear and decisive tones which could
leave no chance for any inattention on the part
" Oh, dear Master of the World and of this
little house," prayed the good man, " we thank
Thee for this bright morning and for the flowers
and clouds and birds which have helped to make
it beautiful. We thank Thee that we, here be-
neath this roof, love each other with whole
hearts. We thank Thee for the little child that
sits here at our board, and for his health and
THE SUMMERS FAMILY 203
smiles, and from the bottom of our hearts we
pray Thee to give us wisdom to lead him in the
paths of goodness. And we thank Thee for the
little wanderer who sleeps a stranger in our
house. If she be motherless, give us joy in
mothering her; and if she be fatherless, we com-
mit her to Thy all knowing care beg for her
Thy abounding love and mercy. May no fear
come in her heart when first she looks upon us.
May she see at once the tenderness we feel for
her. And if it be Thy will that she shall unite
her life with ours, may we have heart of grace
to take her as a gift from Thee. Amen."
" Amen," breathed Mrs. Barbara, wiping her
" Amen," laughed baby Jonathan.
And then they all fell to and ate with the best
Then, while they lingered over their meal,
and the Rev. Absalom talked about the ride he
ought to take to Sessions to see old Mrs. Under-
wood, who had cancer, and while Mrs. Barbara
decided .that perhaps she'd better not start her
blue chally that day when she was likely to have
so much on her mind, and while baby Jonathan
was wondering when, when he would be let
down on the floor to crawl after that nice hairy
caterpillar, there came a great knocking at the
"Old Bill Jones!" cried the preacher.
"What a fist the man^has! Who can it be,
Barbara? " It was no easy matter for the master
of the house to uncoil his long legs and get them
out from under the table. So it was little Mrs.
Barbara who opened the door to admit a man
quite as tall as her own Absalom a man with
no hat and a great shock of hair, and a fiddle
under his arm. He nodded to Mrs. Summers,
but looked over her head at the man and
" Neighbor, I'm getting up a posse to hunt a
little girl that's been lost. It's mighty important
that we get under way inside of an hour at the
farthest. Will you join us?"
" Now you just make up your mind I will,
man. But first I want to know why she's lost,
and who wants her, and what's to be done with
her after she's found. I've known of cases where
it was better to be lost than found. What say? "
" I say what you say is true, sir! It would be
a heap better for that there little girl to die on
the mountains alone than to be picked up by the
THE SUMiMERS FAMILY 205
folks she's run away from. But I don't want
them to get her, and I don't want her to die on
the mountain side, for there's happiness a-com-
ing to her if only I can put my hands on her and
take her back to them that's waiting for her."
Mr. Summers was at last untangled from the
table and he came forward holding out that great
hearty hand which had put faith and hope into
many weary hearts.
" Now, neighbor, you do me the honor to en-
ter and be seated, if you please. I want to get
the rights of this story before I do anything.
And don't think you're wasting time, for I give
you my word that you're saving it, and that as
soon as I find this is a thing we all ought to en-
list in, I'll have the whole town about us bay-
ing at our heels, sir and it will be view and
halloo with us."
Haystack Thompson shifted his violin to his
other arm, and ran a long tongue over his lips.
Then he looked over his man.
" You the preacher? " he asked.
" Right you are."
He came in then, and at Mrs. Summer's invi-
tation to draw his chair up to the breakfast table,
did so, and ate while he told his story. From
time to time the Rev. Absalom consulted his
wife Barbara. He had a way of lifting an eye-
brow or half closing an eye, that was a code of
signals in itself; and she had her own swift ways
of answering. So that by the time Haystack
was through with his story, both Mr. and Mrs.
Summers had decided what to do.
"You show him," said Mr. Summers. So
Mrs. Barbara arose and beckoned their visitor.
" There's no need of a searching party, sir,"
she said. " Come see what we found this morn-
And then, just as the two of them stepped out
onto the porch, Azalea opened her weary eyes
and blinked at the light.
"Well, praise the Lord!" broke from Hay-
stack's lips when he saw her.
"Amen!" shouted the Rev. Absalom, and in
spite of some effort to restrain himself he broke
" The Prince of darkness grim,
We tremble not for him ;
His rage we can endure,
For lo! his doom is sure.
One little word shall fell-11-11 him."
THE SUMMERS FAMILY 207
Azalea sat up on her cot with the bedclothes
drawn up to her chin, and stared about her with
eyes too full of surprise to be troubled. Then,
with a rush, she comprehended.
"Oh, Mr. Thompson, dear!" she gasped.
" Is it really you? Oh, Mr. Thompson! " She
forgot her uncovered arms and her straggling
hair, and sprang from her couch into the old fid-
dler's outstretched arms, and wept. It was not a
mere summer shower, but a cloudburst a
freshet. And Haystack Thompson wept too, and
mopped his eyes on his red bandana; and the
Rev. Absalom Summers mopped his on the
roller towel; and little Mrs. Summers dried
hers delicately on the hem of the baby's frock.
But, however, it became necessary to bring all
this to an end, and Haystack found the cour-
age to do it. He set the little girl down firmly
in a chair and shook a warning finger at her.
"Storm's all over!" he announced; and he
helped Mrs. Summers to wrap her pink knitted
shawl around the girl's shoulders.
" I'm off," he announced, " to send word to
the folks at home."
" And I'm with you," declared the preacher.
Mrs. Summers ran to the window to see the
two tall men making their way down the street,
and then hastened back to her strange guest.
Azalea had arisen and came forward with the
pink shawl dragging behind her.
" Oh, ma'am," she pleaded, both hands ex-
tended, " Please don't think me bold and horrid.
I'm not bold, honest I'm not. I want to tell you
all about it."
" I know all about it now, my dear, and I
understand everything. I don't think you are
bold, and I'm very thankful that you came here.
And now, my child, you will find some clean
clothes laid out on the bed for you and I are
just about of a size, though I'm a married per-
son and you're a little girl. And here's a glass
of milk to go on, so to speak, while you are mak-
ing yourself fine. By the time you are ready,
there'll be more porridge cooked for you. You
like porridge, don't you with cream? And
do you like muffins with raisins in them? I can
cook some in no time. And bacon shall it be
bacon and a few fried potatoes?"
But Azalea had fled to make her toilet. It
was, after all, not so quickly made as she might
have hoped. As she stood in the simple, dainty
room, with the pretty toilet table and the deli-
THE SUMMERS FAMILY 209
cately perfumed soap and the great soft towels,
all her longing for the cleanliness of the Ma Mc-
Birney days came over her, and when she
emerged, at last, the muffins were as brown as
nuts on top, and the bacon was done to a crisp.
"Well! " cried Mrs. Summers when she saw
the girl in her starched pink gingham, with
smooth braids and " shining morning face "
standing in the doorway. " Well! " The word
seemed to mean much. It meant among other
things that Mrs. Barbara liked the looks of her
unexpected guest, and Azalea felt a pleasant
wave of " homeyness " gently rippling over her.
" And now for breakfast," said little Mrs.
Barbara. But at that moment Azalea saw what
she thought was the sweetest thing her eyes ever
had beheld. Baby Jonathan was in his tub down
before the fire, and he was splashing with hands
and feet till the water flew all about him on the
" Oh, the little deary dear! " squealed Azalea,
forgetting all about breakfast and dropping on
her knees beside the rosy baby. " Oh, the little
lovey, ducky, honey-pot!" She dropped a kiss
at the back of his neck, and then deposited one
in each of his moist, rosy palms. She twisted bis
golden, silk-fine ringlets about her finger, and
counted his toes and his fingers to the imme-
morial rhyme of the little pig that went to
" But, my dear," protested the baby's mother,
" your breakfast is getting cold."
" Oh, I know, Mrs. Summers. But I like it
cold. I do, really, ma'am. And then I've had
ever so many breakfasts Oh, ever and ever so
many in my time. But I never saw a baby be-
fore, close too, and like this. I didn't know they
were so sweet. Why, he's the very loveliest thing
I ever saw. Are all babies as nice as this one? "
Mrs. Barbara beamed, and her dark eyes
looked deeper and sweeter than ever.
" Well, I don't think there are any quite as
nice," she said blushing beautifully. " But so
far as I've seen they're all more or less nice."
" I should think everybody would have 'em! "
cried Azalea. " I certainly shall."
" I would," said little Mrs. Barbara tenderly.
" And now come, you starved child, and eat
While Azalea ate, she and Mrs. Summers ex-
changed confidences. Azalea told her the full
story of her " strange life " as she called it; and
THE SUMMERS FAMILY 211
Mrs. Summers told her about her happy girl-
hood, and her days away at boarding school, and
how her parents had wished her to marry a
young man who lived near them, and whom she
had known all her life, and who was rich and of
high social position, and how she had just had
to marry Absalom Summers who had no money,
and who didn't know or care what you
meant when you talked about a social position.
" And I'm so happy," said the clergyman's lit-
tle wife, " in this dear funny little house "
" And with that dear funny little baby," broke
" That I really can't be thankful enough,"
concluded Mrs. Summers.
" Well," said Azalea, " you'd be surprised if
you could know of the perfectly lovely people
I've been meeting these days."
" Not Bet Bowen and her son? " teased Mrs.
Azalea flushed a little. " But really and
truly, they had their good side, Mrs. Summers,"
she said earnestly. " They weren't half as bad
to me as they might have been."
" You dear child! I'm sure they weren't. And
perhaps in their hearts they are glad you got
Azalea clasped her hands and swung them up
over her head with a curious, excited gesture.
" You can make up your mind that I'm glad,
Mrs. Summers. Just think, I'm really free
again, and I'm going back to Ma McBirney, and
Carin and all the rest."
The baby had been taken from its bath and
clothed in fresh garments, and now its mother
made herself comfortable in a low rocking
chair, and drew the fuzzy head against her
" I'm going to rock him to sleep," she ex-
plained. " So we'll have to stop talking a
Azalea smiled till all of her teeth gleamed.
" I'll try," she said, " but I know it will be
hard. Honest, I never talked so much before
in my life. I've always been afraid of people a
little, or thought it wasn't polite to talk like this.
But someway you don't mind my saying it,
do you, Mrs. Summers? you seem almost like
my own sister. I couldn't help talking to you.
You may be married and older than I am, but
you're no bigger. And then you've been so good
so good I couldn't say."
" Sh, dear," murmured the little mother. And
she crooned the baby to sleep while the girl, sit-
ting on a hassock near, watched her with admir-
Then, when baby was quiet, the two worked
together about the little house till all was tidy
and as it should be, and little Mrs. Summers
made her confession too.
" I get dreadfully lonely at times," she said.
" The people here are good as good can be, but
they're different from the people I'm used to.
I can't seem to make myself feel quite free with
them. Why, I've told you more, Azalea, than
I have them, and I've only known you such a
little, little few minutes."
" It's queer, isn't it? " said Azalea softly.
" It's very queer. I know this : I'll have you for
my kin as long as I live. You see I've no real
kin, so we'll be pretend kin."
" Cousins! " cried Mrs. Barbara. " Make it
" Cousins! " cried Azalea in turn. And they
smiled at each other from across the bed that
they were making together.
So Haystack Thompson, still somewhat
troubled and flustered, came back to find his
charge as happy as a bird. And it was arranged
that they should take the train for Lee that after-
" You're to wear the things you have on, Aza-
lea," said Mrs. Summers. " And my blue sun-
shade, and you can send them back to me when
you get ready. I've ten times as many clothes as
I have any occasion to wear here."
But there were still several hours that these so
sudden friends could spend together; so Azalea
was shown the garden and the chickens and the
cow and the one lazy white horse, and she was
present when Jonathan awoke. She saw him
dewy from his sleep, and thought him lovelier
than ever. So it was not quite easy to say good-
bye when the time came. But it was agreed that
Mrs. Summers was to write to Azalea and that
Azalea was to answer, and that they were to
address each other as " My dear Cousin."
The four o'clock train bore Haystack Thomp-
son and Azalea away from the little huddled
town and up through the purple mountains, and
dropped them, after hours of unexpected delay,
down into the village of Lee.
MA SAYS NO
Ma McBirney, sitting sad-eyed at the edge of
the mountain plateau on which her cottage
stood, was absently watching the road. She had
no reason to suppose that anybody would be
winding up that five-mile wagonway to see her,
yet for some reason she could not fix her mind on
her work that morning. Sitting there at the
" Outlook," she could see over the bright valley
and catch the gleam of the sun on the river and
on the distant dome of the county courthouse.
About her the bees hummed, intent on their
day's work; and not far distant stood the buzzing
village of hives which Thomas McBirney had
placed where the Pride of India tree, the mimo-
sas and catalpas, the trumpet flower and wild
honeysuckle could feed them. Mary McBirney
loved the song of the bees; she loved the bright
valley; she loved her home and most of all she
loved those within it.
Yet to-day the heart in her was heavy. A
sorrow less black yet somehow more dishearten-
ing than that which had engulfed her at the time
of her Molly's death, rested upon her heart.
When Molly had died, it was as if the tragic
blackness of night had come upon her. Yet
amid this murk there came shining the morning
star of hope. And afterward there came the full
and beautiful dawn of perfect trust. She be-
lieved that in the Time to Come she and Molly
would stand together, spirit to spirit, and that
there would be no more separation.
Then Azalea had come to fill the lonely hours
with her bright ways, and every night Mary Mc-
Birney had thanked God for her daughterly so-
ciety. And now she was gone! Nor could the
woman who had grown to love her, rest in the
comfort that she was, like Molly, safe from
harm. When Molly died, her mother's grief
had been selfish. She did not mourn for Molly,
but for herself. But now she mourned most for
the lost girl, who might be going through terri-
ble experiences, and who was, no doubt, eating
out her heart in terror and homesickness.
There were not wanting those who said and
believed that the " circus girl " had run away
of her own accord and gone back to the wander-
MA SAYS NO 217
ing folk with whom she had spent the greater
part of her life. But never for one fleeting sec-
ond did Ma McBirney think this. She had
looked too often into the clear and loving eyes
of the girl, to believe that there could be any-
thing about her which was not straightforward
and loyal. She only prayed that in some way
her love might reach out, as starlight reaches
from stars, to shine on the poor wandering child
and comfort her.
She could see her Thomas working on his
terraced, steep fields, and now and then she
waved a hand to him. She didn't want him to
know how heavily her heart lay in her. She had
caused him enough anxiety during the past year,
and she knew his own heart was sore with the
loss of his Molly, and that he also was greatly
distressed over Azalea. So, not to add to his
troubles, she tried to wear a cheerful face. But
this morning her knees seemed to give way un-
der her, and her pulse fluttered sickeningly.
Then, as she sat there reproaching herself for
not having more faith that her eager prayers
would be answered, she saw three riders coming
up the long road. They showed in the midst of
a little clearing and then were lost among the
trees, and only now and then, at some bald, out-
jutting point, could she catch a glimpse of them.
After a time she made out that they were a man,
a woman and a girl; and when they were still
far beneath her, she recognized them for Mr.
and Mrs. Carson and Carin.
She threw a thought to the cabin and the way
it looked, and decided that nothing was out of
place. All was as orderly and clean as hands
could make it, and up in Azalea's empty
room, there were fresh flowers in the vase, and
the canary bird was singing on the little high-
swung gallery. As for Ma McBirney herself,
she always was neat. Her hair rippled away
from her broad, low brow, and her plain ging-
ham frock, with its crocheted collar and its
branched coral brooch, was as clean and smooth
as it could be made. So, unflurried as ever
though she had never before received people so
important Mrs. McBirney awaited her
The three of them, having achieved the last
climb on their way, urged their horses to a fine
gallop, and they came bearing down tumult-
uously on Mary McBirney, crying out some-
thing joyously. Then, suddenly she forgot all
MA SAYS NO 219
her dignity and ran to meet them, and as they
reined up sharply by her side the tears were
streaming over her face.
" What say? What say? " she shrilled at
them. " Is she found!"
"Found! Whoop la!" shouted Mr. Carson
like a boy. " Found by Haystack Thompson.
She's all safe and right safe and right as
Carin here. And they're coming home on the
" Oh," gasped Mrs. McBirney, and sank
down on a convenient stump and stared in the
distance, the unheeded tears still running down
her cheeks. And then rousing herself she cried :
" But the boys must know! Pa must know! "
"Where are they all?"
" Pa's cultivating the cotton patch yon ; and
Hi's fishing it don't take but one arm to fish,
you know. And Jim's off at school."
" Count Jim out, then, Mrs. McBirney.
Shall I go call the others?"
" Wait. I've a way," cried Mrs. McBirney,
and sped toward the house. There she kept an
old horn hanging. It had come down in the
family from Revolutionary times; it had been
used to call the men in from the fields, when the
hostile Indians showed their feathered heads
above the pass, and now it blew its good tidings
over the fields.
"That will bring them," said Mrs. McBir-
ney. " They'll come running."
The Carsons said they would sit out in the
sunshine that there was no need for them to
go into the house. They had come up unex-
pectedly, and they gave Mary McBirney a
chance to keep her house to herself if she
wished. But a kind of humble pride swelled in
the good woman's heart. She had not many
vanities, but her pride in her home was one of
" We will sit in the sun," she said, " for it's
the place to be days like this. But first you must
see my home. I've seen yours, you know."
So they were shown the homely rooms the
rooms where each and every member of the
family had his comfortable place. They saw
the cat sunning on the doorstep, and the hounds
stretched out in the yard. They saw the braided
rugs, the woven counterpanes, the homemade
cotton at the windows, the shapely baskets, all
the products of Mary McBirney's busy hands.
And then they were taken to that clean little
MA SAYS NO 221
chamber, looking straight up the leafy moun-
tain side, which the McBirneys had lovingly
made for Azalea.
"Oh!" cried Carin, "Isn't it a dear place,
mamma? Quaint and dear like Azalea! My
room has too many things in it, hasn't it mamma?
I like this better. And it's almost like living in
the tree tops. The next time Azalea leaves you,
Mrs. McBirney, it will be because she thinks
she's a bird and flies away. Or else she'll be a
And just then they heard Thomas McBirney
calling them from below. Then they all went
down to have a part in telling their good news,
and while they were in the very midst of their
story not that they had much to tell, for they
knew no more than Haystack's message had
brought them Hi's odd little figure, with its
long arms and bullet head, came crawling up
the rocks from the lower waterfall. His dark
face was strangely old and tired, and as he
moved forward, with one of his thin arms in a
splint, he certainly looked like a neglected boy,
and this in spite of all that Ma McBirney could
do to keep him as she thought a boy should be
" She's found, Hi," Mr. Carson shouted in
his hearty way. " Azalea is found! "
" Honest, sir? " cried Hi, stumbling forward.
"Honest Injun, hope to die!" roared back
Hi began kicking viciously at the dirt and
twisting his body this way and that. He was in
agony for fear he would " boo hoo," as he put it
"Sap head!" he snarled under his breath,
" Mammy's baby boy! " He was calling him-
self names, and to some effect, for the invisible
hand that had clutched his throat seemed to
"Well," said Mr. Carson, "let's go sit out
there on the headland and talk. We rode up
here to-day not only to tell you this perfectly
gorgeous piece of news, but also to talk over cer-
tain matters with you."
" I'm sure we're pleased to listen to anything
you have to say, sir," replied Thomas McBirney
quaintly. So they seated themselves on the
benches at " Outlook Point."
"We are so," murmured Ma McBirney in
her soft voice.
MA SAYS NO 223
" Won't you begin at the beginning, Lucy? "
said Mr. Carson to his wife. " Tell them how
we came to leave the city and our friends and
all, and settle here. Or shall I tell them, dear? "
Mrs. Carson leaned back against the trunk of
a tulip tree and looked off across the valley.
" It was a great sorrow," she said in her weary,
beautiful way. " It was a sorrow so great that
we never could quite believe it." She spoke
slowly, with a little pause between each word.
" In one day our three sons were taken from
us. It was at a theatre there was a fire I
never talk of it. I cannot. We have traveled;
we have lived here and there, and we have been
unable to get back our strength and interest.
My Charles " she laid her white hand on her
husband's knee " tries to make out that he has.
But I know better. But he's more unselfish than
I, that's all. Sometimes I've shut myself up
for weeks at a time, and seen no one except my
nurse. It was the only way that I could control
myself. Well, not to talk of that, we have come,
naturally enough, to look at life in a very dif-
ferent way from what we used to look at it. We
see that we've got to stop living for ourselves
alone. If we're to be happy again, we must
enlarge our family. We must take in everyone
we can reach who needs us, or who will care for
us. So we have come down here where every
one seems simple and friendly, and where we
can offer our neighborly offices, to spend the
next few years. We heard of the fine old Ather-
ton place, and finding that it was for sale, we
bought it and have made a home there which
we really are coming to love, though we had
thought we never could really care for a home
again. And now we want to be doing some-
thing something really interesting."
" We want to play a new game," broke in Mr.
Carson, " and to get as many as we can to come
and play with us."
"We want," went on Mrs. Carson, "to go
into these mountain industries. We want the
old handicrafts to be revived; the weaving, the
basket making and the pottery. And we want
your help and advice."
" Oh, yes'm," cried Mary McBirney enthu-
siastically. " Thomas and I have talked many
and many's the time, of the good that might
come from such a thing. Why, there's chair
makers in these parts that can make a chair
MA SAYS NO 225
that'll go down to their great-great-grand-
"Just the thing, just the thing, madam!"
answered Mr. Carson. " They've got the
knowledge, and they've the talent, but they don't
use their knowledge sufficiently, and they don't
understand how to market their wares."
" It's true," Mr. McBirney admitted.
" They're poorer than Job's turkey. They just
set around and mourn their fate. They stir up
a little patch of ground, and think they've done
everything there is to be done."
" They're too far from markets and rail-
roads," said Mr. Carson. " In the beginning the
mountains called them, they were so beautiful;
and then they cast a spell over them. It's as if
the people were hypnotized, and hadn't leave to
"That's it," agreed Mrs. McBirney. "You
see them creeping down into town as shy as deer.
And you can tell by looking at them, that there
ain't enough in the pantry to go around.
They're just plumb starved, that's what they
" Starved for lack of food, and society, and
excitement," Mr. Carson added. "Their
stomachs and their minds and hearts are empty."
" Yes, sir, just plumb empty."
" Well, let's put something in them. What
do you say, Mr. McBirney? "
" It certainly would be a fine thing to do, sir.
Now, how'll you go about it? "
"Well, we want you and Mrs. McBirney to
co-operate with us. We want you to take charge
of the chair factory that we mean to start, and
we want Mrs. McBirney to preside over the
" And leave the farm, sir? " cried Mary Mc-
Birney. " You're not ever meaning that, are
" Why, would that be so hard? We'd put you
up just the sort of cottage you want, you know.
And you'd be near the school, so that Jim could
go without using up the best part of his energy
racing up and down the mountain."
" I reckon Jimmy does get rather wore out,"
Mary McBirney mused. " And maybe it would
be better all 'round, Mr. Carson. And yet "
Mary McBirney's eyes strayed off to the pur-
ple valley with its silver streams; they rested on
the low-lying cottage, wreathed in its flowering
vines and hemmed around with its rose bushes,
MA SAYS NO 227
its sweet althea shrubs, its hydrangeas and bridal
wreaths; they rested on the Pride of India tree
and the graves beneath; on the towering tulip
trees under which they sat, and she shook her
" No, Mr. Carson," she said gently and with
the moisture gathering in her eyes, " we
couldn't never make another place so so
sweet as this here one. We couldn't
put our hearts into another place as we
have into this. Besides, though I thank you
kindly, sir, I wouldn't want to leave my home to
work outside. My job is making things bright
for Thomas and Jim and Azalea, and perhaps
for Hi, here. If it was so that I really needed
to work outside, of course I would and never say
a word. But I'd rather we got along with little,
and went patched and mended, than for us to
have more and lose the feeling of home."
" I can't say the farm has paid any too well,"
Thomas McBirney said, " Sometimes it cer-
tainly has been hard scratching. And yet, some-
how, I wouldn't like to cut loose from it. It's
such a likely prospect we have here." He too
was looking off at the valley. " Somehow it
don't seem as if we could move on. Perhaps the
mountains have cast a spell over us, as you say."
" Well, I can't blame you if they have," said
Mr. Carson cordially. " Yet ought you to let
sentiment like that stand in the way of Jim's
schooling and your advancement? "
Thomas McBirney crossed one leg over the
other, and looked down pensively at his cal-
" I don't know as I had ought to," he said
slowly. " But after all, we're happy here. The
children was born here. Our little girl
Molly, you know, that's dead she seems to be
running over the place still. Seems like I can
feel her near me, plenty of times. Don't you
feel that way, ma? "
Mary McBirney nodded, with her tender
" So," went on Thomas McBirney, " I don't
know as I ought to leave. But I tell you what
I can do, Mr. Carson, and what I'd be proud to
do. Times when I wasn't busy here at the farm,
I could drive back into the mountains to visit
men I know, and men I don't exactly know but
that I've heard tell of, and I could get them to
working on chairs for you. Then they'd haul
them down to your place; and maybe some of
MA SAYS NO 229
them who ain't as hard to pry loose from the
rocks as I be, will move down beside your
" Thomas makes the best chairs I ever set in,"
declared Mary McBirney with pride. " Talk
about getting other men to make chairs! There
ain't none of them can come up to him."
" I engage your whole output then," declared
Mr. Carson, apparently not at all vexed that his
fine plan had been disarranged. " Get to work,
Mr. McBirney, and get your boy to work. I'll
sell the chairs for you at better rates than you
ever dreamed of."
" And if you do that," declared Thomas Mc-
Birney, " you'll take your commission. This
has got to be on a business basis, sir."
" Of course, of course," answered Mr. Carson
hastily. He saw that it would be very easy to
hurt the pride of this independent man. " We'll
agree on the commission, and I'll take it. Of
course I shall need money to build my cottages
and to run the business."
Hi had been wriggling like a worm on the
bench where he sat beside Carin, and now, with
much blinking and twisting, he managed to say,
addressing himself to Mr. Carson:
" Yes, Hi."
" My ma, you know," but his cogs stopped
" Well, I don't exactly know her, Hi, but I'd
" She can weave, sir, better than anybody.
She can weave the Tudor Rose, and the Andrew
Jackson Cabin, and the Diamond and Cat Track
Oh, most anything. You ought to see her
weaving. And she can make her own dyes, just
beautiful. But what's the use? Where she lives
nobody cares about her weaving. If you'd
just ask her to come on, sir, since Mrs. McBir-
ney don't want to, she'd run the place for you,
fine, and teach the women all the old patterns."
His little black eyes seemed to hold flames in
them as he turned his face, twitching with his
excitement, toward Mr. Carson.
" Why, Hi, could she really? Where does
she live? I can go and see her."
" She lives away over on the far side of
Steamboat Mountain, sir. Pa's dead, you know,
and there's three children for ma to care for.
She drives the horse to town and gets washing,
and she farms a little. But it ain't much. I
MA SAYS NO 231
had to leave home so's I'd not be making her
feed me. That's why I went away with my
uncle Sisson." His face flushed scarlet through
all the brown as he thought of his connection
with this man whom he hated, and whom he
knew all these people with him held in
" You shall go with me, Hi, and show me the
way. We go by train, of course? "
" By train first. Then we drive." Little
drops of sweat broke out on Hi's forehead and
about his mouth and the tears swam into his hot
" Oh, if we could be together, here, sir! I
just want to see my ma so! I've been wanting
to see her all the time, and now since my arm
got broke I can't hardly live, I want her so."
Mary McBirney reached out a hand and
drew the boy over beside her. He might have
been ashamed of her petting at another moment,
but now he nestled up close to her, big boy that
he was, and looked shyly up into her face.
" It was being with you, ma'am," he mur-
mured, " that made me so homesick, I reckon.
It made me remember what ma was like."
Mrs. Carson leaned forward to smile on him.
" We'll have you and your mother together,
Hi," she declared, the languor gone out of her
lovely voice, " one way or another. You may
take my word for that. And if, as you say, she
can attend to the weaving, why you may be sure
she shall be given it to do. We can get some one
to help her keep her house and care for the chil-
dren. I agree with Mrs. McBirney, a mother
has to make a happy home. That's her first busi-
ness and her best business, too, isn't it? But
since your mother has to have the work outside
in order to have a home, we'll arrange the best
" I shall learn how to weave, too, mother,"
Carin announced. " O mother, can't I have that
big room upstairs for a studio? I want to put
my sketches up on the wall, and have a place to
paint. Please, mother! I'd be so happy if I
could have a studio of my own. If everyone
else is to do something, I want to do something
too. And I know I can paint. And I know I
can weave. And I can make baskets. I have
the dearest ideas for shapes and designs. Oh,
I'd so much rather do that than study arithmetic
" Perhaps there'll be time for both, my dear,"
MA SAYS NO 233
smiled her mother. " There seems to be a great
deal of time down here. I'm having a friend of
mine come down to act as governess for Carin,"
Mrs. Carson said, turning to Mrs. McBirney.
" She will teach her at home for the present, for
I don't feel as if I could let her go away to
boarding school yet. Fortunately, my friend,
Miss Parkhurst, paints charmingly in water
colors, and so Carin will be able to take some
lessons in that. Carin wants to make an artist
of herself, and I'm sure I'd love to have her if
she really has the talent. Well, come, Charles,
we must be riding down the mountain. Will
you meet Azalea this afternoon, Mr. Mc-
" You just believe I will, ma'am," declared
Thomas McBirney, going forward to hold Mrs.
Carson's horse for her. " And it will be as
happy an errand as I ever took, ma'am."
" We'll be pleased to see you often, ma'am,"
said Mrs. McBirney' in her quaint way, as she
stood beside Mrs. Carson's beautiful white
mare, looking up into the delicate, lovely face of
the woman above her. " It's a great privilege
for me to know you, ma'am."
" It's one of the best things that has come to
me to know you, Mary McBirney," responded
the other, leaning down to grasp the firm hand
of her new friend. " I feel warmed all over
when I'm with you. And I'm so glad you've
decided to keep inside your home. I'm even
glad that your husband has made up his mind
to stay up here on the mountain, though I must
confess that it sets back our plans a little. But
it will all come out all right. We'll find some
one who needs to come. As for you I mean
' you-all ' " she laughed lightly, " as you say,
you're better right here in this beautiful spot.
Let me come often, will you? "
" Come as often as you can, ma'am. It cer-
tainly will make me thankful to have you."
Mary McBirney spoke from the heart. Idle
compliments were not in her line. She was
offering her friendship, and Mrs. Carson, who
had known brilliant and charming women and
had had their devotion in plenty, felt her heart
swell with satisfaction. She had known lovely
women, but never one in whose eyes the lights
of home seemed to glow as they did in Mary
Good-byes were said by all save Hi. He, it
seemed, was not to be found. He had slipped
MA SAYS NO 235
away in his own fashion, and at that moment he
lay on the red pine needles back of the cabin,
" just bawling," as he would have phrased it.
He was astonished at himself, and thoroughly
disgusted. He remembered that during all of
his troubles, when Sisson beat him, when he
went hungry, when he lay out in the wet, he had
not once " bawled." It seemed perfectly dis-
gusting that he should be doing it now when
everything was coming all right.
AT HOME AGAIN
At four o'clock that afternoon, at which time
the train bearing Mr. Thompson and Azalea
was due at Lee, Ma McBirney went to the
" Outlook " and fastened an old sheet in the
crotch of the tulip trees, and there being a fine
breeze blowing across the flank of the mountain,
it caught the folds of this copious flag and
spread it to the breeze.
" Azalea will be the first to see it, likely,"
thought Mrs. McBirney. " She has such sharp
But the sharp eyes of Azalea were busy, at
that moment, staring disconsolately from the car
window, many miles from home. For there was
a freight wreck not far ahead of them, and, ac-
cording to the conductor, there was no telling
when they could move on.
It was quite possible for Mary McBirney to
hear the roar of the approaching train from her
high-swung home-nest, although the railroad
AT HOME AGAIN 237
lay across the valley from them, but Jim had
come home from school and heard all the story,
and he and Hi had sat on the bench and nearly
stared their eyes out watching for the locomo-
tive to push its black nose over the gap, and sup-
per had been eaten, and the darkness settled
down for the night, before the shrill and
apologetic whistle of the engine was heard.
" That child will be clean starved," ma said
to the boys. " And pa, too, unless he had the
sense to go to the inn and get supper. And I
don't suppose he did, me not being along.
Seems like married men didn't know enough to
eat unless their wives was by to tell 'em when to
Not that Ma McBirney was scolding. She
was merely passing the time.
" I reckon we'd best take that there sheet in,
ma, and swing out the lantern," Jim said as he
heard the distant shriek of the train.
" It sure will cheer them up to see it," ma
said. " It's all ready for use, Jim. I filled it
and polished it yesterday."
So Jim climbed up the tulip tree to the first
long, out-reaching branch, and swung out a
serviceable headlight lantern.
"There!" said Jim descending, "It looks
like the morning star."
And so it did to the homesick eyes of the girl
who sat snuggled close to Pa McBirney, sitting
all starched and prim, in the pink gingham
frock of little Barbara Summers.
"What's that, please?" she cried, nudging
pa's arm. "That away up on the mountain?
That's not a star, is it? It's too low down."
"Sho!" ejaculated pa, "that's ma's lantern.
She's telling us to hurry up. You hear, you
there?" he called good-naturedly to the horses.
" Perhaps the boys will come down to meet
" No they won't, Azalea. At least, Jim won't.
He'll stay with his ma. As much as we can,
Azalea, we-all must stay with ma. It ain't good
for her to be alone too much. I've been talking
that over with Jim and he thinks just like I do.
She's had too much trouble, ma has, to be left
alone to brood over them. Not that she's a fret-
ting one. But she's deep, ma is."
" I know."
" It just seemed like her heart would break
when you was took away, Azalea. She sets
great store by you almost as much as she did
AT HOME AGAIN 239
by Molly. You see, she's turned the love she
had for Molly, right on you. So you be good
to her, sister, won't you now?"
" Oh, indeed I will! Just as good as I know
" You're a bright girl, Zalie, and I feel it in
my bones that there's fine things in store for
you. But I'm going to say right now, that if you
can, I want you to stick to ma. If you can,
Azalea. Of course I don't want you to stand in
your own light."
The girl slipped a hand into the arm of Pa
McBirney. Then she pointed up the valley to
where the light shone from the " Outlook."
" That's my light, pa," she said softly.
Haystack Thompson, who had stayed in town
for the night, putting up at the inn and intend-
ing to return to his neglected farm in the morn-
ing, had given Mr. McBirney an account of
Azalea's adventures, but now pa begged to hear
them again from the girl's lips. So she told him
everything in her sweet wistful voice.
" It seems like I'm a dreadful lot of trouble
to you," she said. " I can't see why it is that I
had to bring you all this worry."
"Why tain't your fault, Zalie. What's the
use of talking like that? "
" It seems like I'm not the way other girls are.
I've had such a strange life, Pa McBirney."
" Well it hain't been very long yet, girl -
hardly long enough to be strange, you might
" Yes it has, pa. It's been short and strange.
Now really, you know, I ought to be living in
The Shoals. That's my house at least, I mean
it might have been. That old Colonel Atherton
you told Jim about, and that he told me about,
was my grandfather."
She said it in a musing way, as if she attached
very little importance to it, and her hand still
rested on the arm of Pa McBirney.
" What's that! " roared pa. " What you say-
ing, girl? Whoa there, Mac. Whoa Nannie,"
He brought the horses to such a short stop that
the stones crashed away from hoofs and wheels
down the steep grade of the road. " Just say
that again, will ye? "
" I found it out while I was away, pa. Betty
Bowen told me. She said mamma never wanted
to come down this way, so near her old home,
until just at the last, when she knew she couldn't
AT HOME AGAIN 241
live. But it don't matter, pa. You don't think
any less of me for being the granddaughter of
that man, do you? I can't help being related
to him anyway."
"Sho!" exclaimed pa. "What you talking
about, girl? He may have been a foolish man
in the heat of all the trouble of the war, and
done things that hadn't ought to have been done,
but he was quality, Azalea. They was great
folks, the Athertons."
" Well, the only ones I know anything about,"
said Azalea with a choke in her voice, " were
wandering show folks; and one of them was a
friendless orphan, Pa McBirney, till you and
ma took her in. There wasn't any great folks
about her. There was just a miserable little
wretch. Don't change toward me, pa, please,
please! Don't go and tell Jim and Hi. Maybe
they'd think I w r as putting on airs. Just let
everything go on the way it is."
" Nothing ever goes on the way it was," said
pa profoundly, clucking to his horses. " But I
see what you mean, girl, and since you and me is
pretty good friends, I'll do what you want me
to do. I'll stand by you because we are friends."
He felt the girl's grateful lips pressed against
the rough sleeve of his coat, and he laughed
down at her in a kindly, almost pitying way.
" See here, Zalie," he said, " don't you get to
caring too much for us. Don't you get to caring
too much for nothing. You hear me? Keep
calm, Zalie. Keep calm. Folks that cares too
much gets in a lot of trouble."
" Do they? " laughed the girl. The remark
seemed to strike her as very funny, and her gay
laughter rang out like silver bells on the night
air. The horses quickened their steps as they
heard it, and a discouraged looking old " houn'-
dog " came out from a tumble-down cabin and
bayed at them.
But Pa McBirney refused to be amused.
" I mean what I say," he declared.
Azalea pulled herself together and stopped
" I know I'm silly, pa, but I'm so happy!
You can't think how happy I am ! There now,
don't you try to tell me not to be too happy, be-
cause I've simply got to be happy to-night.
Now, I'll be good and talk like a sensible per-
son all the rest of the ride. I want to tell you
more about Mr. Summers, and my cousin Bar-
AT HOME AGAIN 243
" Your cousin Barbara? "
"Yes, Mrs. Summers, you know. She's so
little she seems almost like a girl. And we made
up our minds to be kin."
"Oh, you did, did you?"
" Yes. We're going to write to each other just
like we were cousins. See? "
" I just love her!"
" There you go again."
" Well, I can't help it if I do. Tell me about
" I reckon she'll be up to see you to-morrow
to tell you everything herself. She's going into
some kind of picture making, and her pa and
ma is simply rooting up the earth, doing things."
He told her about the project for developing the
mountain industries and the part they all were
to play in it.
" Something laid out for every last one of us,
" Except me, pa. Didn't they make plans for
" They didn't mention any, but I suspicion
that they've got more plans for you than for
anybody else. And that makes me feel kind
o' bothered, on ma's account. Now that you tell
me about your being the granddaughter of old
Colonel Atherton, with a sort of right to live in
the great house though it did pass out of the
family years ago I'm more bothered than
Azalea laughed again.
" I don't believe you're bothered at all, pa,"
she declared. " Why, here we are, home ! Why,
we're really homel Didn't the time pass
quickly? Ma! Ma! Hullo, boys! Where's
Mary McBirney folded the slight form of the
girl in her arms.
" My prayers was answered," she said simply.
" Just bear witness, children. They was all
answered. It's a lesson to us, ain't it? If we
want anything of the Lord, just ask him, believ-
ing. Are you clean starved out, pet? Come
right along in and have supper. Pa, the
boys will 'put up the horses. You hike in the
house and eat something decent. I suppose you
had some kind of stuff down at that there inn.
My land, it's a wonder to me them folks can't
learn how to cook."
She led the girl in and seated her before the
AT HOME AGAIN 245
table with its fine bread, its glasses of foaming
milk, its cottage cheese and honey. Then she
pushed her husband to his seat, and hung over
him, then fluttered to Azalea to hang over her
like an anxious mother bird.
" Here's a little hot ham to help quell your
appetites. And here's some hominy cakes. My
goodness, Azalea, do eat something. Pa, you
just ruined your appetite down there in that
miserable eating place. Ain't it wonderful to
have Zalie home again, pa? The ways of the
Lord are past our comprehending. You must
tell me everything, Zalie every last thing."
The lights from the homemade candles flut-
tered softly against the brown walls. Far off,
the whippoorwills called. The chill freshness
of the night-enshrouded mountain stole in the
door, and when the boys had returned from put-
ting up the horses, the family shut out the silent,
shadowy world about them and drew around the
table. Their faces, earnest, eager, loving, came
into the full light from the candle dips. And
there, far into the night, Azalea talked to them,
secure in her sense of love and peace.
Afterward, when they all had lighted her to
her chamber, and then had left her, she stood
for a while on her little gallery listening to the
whippoorwills and looking at the low stars. It
seemed as if messages of good will came from
the birds, from the near dark forest, from the
loud-singing stream. All was familiar and dear.
And her fragrant chamber welcomed her with
the silent sweetness to be found only in well-
Among the wide acres of the Atherton place
was a certain field known since the memory of
the grandfathers as " The Field of Arrows."
It was a level, sunny spot, surrounded by low
hills. It backed, indeed, against a hill, and a
little stream with mirror-like pools ran around
it with scythelike grace. The Field of Arrows N
was almost a semicircle, and it was as pleasant
a spot as any around about Lee, beautiful though
that region was.
It had taken its name from the great number
of flint arrowheads, the handicraft of the Chero-
kees or of some earlier race, who had camped
or fought in that spot. Perhaps they had raised
their maize there too. At any rate, the good
Indian corn was growing there now, putting up
its bladelike leaves courageously to the young
summer air. Midway of the field, that is to say,
reaching from the center of its base and running
to the highest point of its circle, a fine broad
pathway stretched, and beside this path poppies
and daisies, mint and mountain pinks had leave
to grow when their hour should come. The
path led from the stepping stones and the shady
cove where the kettles and tubs stood for wash-
ing, to a cabin with two picturesque outside
chimneys made of the field stone and the reliable
red clay, which held them together with brave
determination. A light gallery ran in front of
the house, with benches made of stout ash,
pushed back against the wall, and that best of
drinking cups, a long-handled, polished gourd,
hung on the wall above an old Indian water
jar, hollowed from soapstone.
Within were four rooms of equal size, and
back of the house was a summer kitchen. And
everything about the place, from the latticed
passageway that led to the kitchen, to the service-
able crane that swung in the chief fireplace,
spoke of home and comfort. The little windows
looked out on a prosperous scene; the mulberry
tree, with its golden bark, had places of hiding
and nestling for half a dozen children. The
bowlders in the stream sheltered ideal swimming
holes. The chestnut and butternut trees on the
THE SACRIFICE 249
hill behind the house suggested happy autumn
" It will be a perfect place for children,"
decided Mrs. Carson. " And that's where Hi's
family shall live."
She had taken him to see it, and he had looked
at it with eyes which seemed to recognize it as a
home returned to, rather than as one just found.
So, while he and Mr. Carson took their three
days' journey to Hi's home, Mrs. Carson busied
herself with the cabin. The lattice was freshly
whitewashed; the fireplaces within the house
and the chimneys that ran up visibly to the ceil-
ing, were painted a dark red. The floors and
walls were purified, and the whole place fur-
nished with new, strong mountain furniture.
Rag rugs were put on the floor, fresh curtains at
the windows, a good stove set up in the kitchen,
the comfortable beds were provided with new
bedding, and a fine little old clock, taken from
the attic of The Shoals, and a mirror from the
same place, in its antique frame, were set in
" Tell your mother to come right along," Mrs.
Carson had warned Hi. " If she has any par-
ticular treasure she wishes to bring, well and
good. But she's not to bother about anything
else. She'll be glad to have new things to look
at. Women get dreadfully tired looking at the
same furniture day in and day out. I believe a
new outfit for the house at the right time would
have kept many a woman from going insane."
" Yessum," agreed Jim. "Going over and
over a thing is what wears you out, ain't it? "
Mrs. Carson had held some doubts as to the
ability of her husband and Hi to persuade a
woman to " pull up stakes " at an hour's notice
and to go to a place she perhaps had never heard
of. But it appeared that Mrs. Kitchell, like her
son, was ready for adventure. Asking no more
time than it took to wash and iron the handful
of clothes possessed by the family, she packed
all her worldly goods or at least, all she cared
to retain in an old haircloth trunk, and smil-
ing and expectant, turned her face toward Lee.
It was a little brown, nutlike face, much like
Hi's, and it was really carved in smiles in spite
of all her troubles. There were worried marks
between her brows, it is true, but the laughing
marks about her eyes and the corners of her
mouth, discounted them.
The democrat wagon from The Shoals was
THE SACRIFICE 251
at the station to meet the party, and Mrs. Car-
son, who had driven down in her little pony
cart, helped to get the family settled in it. The
little hair trunk was put in behind, and the tribe
of Kitchell, with a new light in their bright
black eyes, turned to the future.
" A dear little strong, staunch woman, isn't
she? " said Lucy Carson to her husband as they
drove toward their home. " And the two girls
are as nice little daughters as anyone would care
to have much better looking than Hi. But
the fourth child, the little boy, looks sickly.
We'll have to put him on special diet plenty
of milk and eggs."
Mr. Carson smiled happily to himself. The
languor was going out of his wife's voice; the
pallor of her face was flushed with a lovely rose
pink. As she sat beside him, in her soft cream-
colored frock, with her lilac scarf drifting from
her shoulders, her pale amethysts in their setting
of old yellow gold clasping collar and belt, he
thought her the sweetest woman he ever had
seen. She was sweeter even than before sorrow
had come to her. He had loved her then; but
there was something very like worship in the
feeling he had toward her now.
" We'll drive on through the hills the short
way," she said, brimful and flowing over with
the home-romance of the Kitchells, " and be at
the door to welcome them."
And so they were. As the democrat wagon
drew up, filled with the wondering and some-
what awed Kitchells, their good " neighbors "
they would not have tolerated the word
" benefactors " stood at the door of the cabin
to meet them. And tired little Anne Kitchell,
her four children following her, stepped into
the door of her new home. The old life with
the shame of a drunken husband, killed in a
shameful row, was left behind. She had the
chance to begin a new life, and to this feeling
the new furniture of the house contributed more
than she could realize.
Hi ran from room to room, staring, his big
mouth open, his heart swelling. Once he waved
his long arms over his head, unable to contain
himself, and not wanting to really whoop with
delight. He listened while Mrs. Carson talked
to his mother of this and that; showed her the
kitchen and the store closets, with their supplies
of food and of house linen, and the plain, good
wardrobes she had prepared for the family.
THE SACRIFICE 253
" If I've made any mistakes, Mrs. Kitchell,
the things can be changed. I worked according
to Hi's direction. No, you're not to thank me.
Not at all. This is a sort of bonus offered you
for your being so obliging in coming to us in
our need. We want to get our factory started
as soon as possible, and we couldn't spare you
the time to sew for your family."
She spoke in a brisk bright way new to her,
and even Hi, boy that he was, could see that a
great change was coming over her. She had
reminded him of a tall white lily, drooping at
the close of a hot day; but now she was like that
same lily in the morning, and her petals were
touched with pink.
So Anne Kitchell was not allowed to weep out
her gratitude, though a dozen times she thought
she was going to; she was rilled, instead, with a
new desire to work and to " be somebody."
There was no one here to saddle the old shame-
ful stories on her to refer to her as a drunk-
ard's wife. She would be taken at her own
valuation, and in her keen, quick little brain she
began to understand that the valuation might be
a high one if she chose to make it so.
Mary McBirney gave her only a day or two
to settle herself in her new home, and then, with
a pail of mountain honey and a crock of cottage
cheese by way of gifts, she came to see her.
They liked each other at once, though the life
of one had enabled her to make the best of her-
self, and the life of the other had kept her right-
ing like an angry rat. But the honesty that
underlay the character of each, and the interest
each had in Hi, and in Azalea indeed, in
children in general helped them over the
little strangeness they might have felt.
But Ma McBirney was restless. There was
something on her conscience something that
had been there ever since her husband had told
her that Azalea was the granddaughter of old
Colonel Atherton, and that, if fortune had
treated her kindly, The Shoals, and all the com-
forts and opportunities that went with the pos-
session of the estate, would have been hers.
True, the fine place had passed legitimately into
the hands of the Carsons ; yet knowing the gen-
erous and abounding nature of the Carsons as
she did, she realized that were they to be told the
truth about Azalea, they would at once offer her
a home, and would give her an education such
as their own daughter was receiving.
THE SACRIFICE 255
" I'm a wicked woman," said Mary McBir-
ney to herself. " I'm selfish and sinful. Just
to give myself happiness, I'm keeping that dear
child away from what belongs to her."
The thought had goaded her for days. More,
it had crept into the wakeful hours of the night.
It had tortured her as she watched Azalea busy
about the house, singing, or thinking in her in-
tense, curious way. When the girl flung her
arms about Ma McBirney's neck, calling her
the sweetest thing in the world, and saying how
happy she was to be back with her again, it
seemed as if Ma McBirney's heart actually
turned over in her side, with dread of losing her,
and with shame at her own cowardice.
So, on the day she called on Mrs. Kitchell,
she summoned her better angel though it was
difficult to imagine that Mary McBirney could
be surrounded with anything but good angels -
and made her way to The Shoals.
From every window of the great white house
fluttered orange and white awnings. The lawn
was trim and green ; the flower beds aglow with
lovely fresh blooms. Hammocks and couches
swung on the wide gallery, and linen-covered
chairs and great East Indian jugs filled with
growing plants, stood about. Ma McBirney
paused before the wide door with its fan-shaped
transom and looked about her wistfully. By
saying a word, Azalea could leave the humble
little home which was now hers, and come down
to enjoy the bright hospitality of this beautiful
place. Music, books, travel all of these
things would come to her. Mary McBirney
remembered how she herself had longed for op-
portunity in those early days when she first be-
came aware of her ignorance, and how she had
" given up " and gone her quiet way the way
to which she was born. But Azalea was not
like that. She could not be happy in giving up
an education and all that would go to make her
capable and able to measure herself with the
best. What had meant contentment for her,
Mary McBirney, would mean failure for
She turned these matters over in her large,
kind mind, and rang Mrs. Carson's door-
Mrs. Carson's parlor maid, black, smiling,
and chubby, answered the summons.
"Tulula Darthula," said Mrs. McBirney in
her soft voice, " might I see your mistress? "
THE SACRIFICE 257
" I'll inquiah, ma'am," replied Tulula in even
softer tones. " Be pleased to enteh."
Mrs. McBirney would have been quite con-
tent to sit on the porch, but the thoughts surging
in her brain impelled her to accept Tulula's
" Will you be seated in the mornin' room,
Mrs. McBirney hesitated a moment. Then
she said shyly:
" If you don't think Mrs. Carson would mind,
Tulula, I'd like to sit in the drawing room this
" Why ce't'ney, ma'am. Suit yo'sef."
Tulula rustled away with her message, and
Mary McBirney, who all her life had seen only
the mountain or the village homes, entered the
long shadowy drawing room, with its paintings,
its occasional white statue, its shining floor and
carved furniture, and sitting there, measuring
all this meant of knowledge and delight, steeled
her heart for the sacrifice.
Then Mr. and Mrs. Carson entered together,
and upborn by love, Mrs. McBirney went to
meet them, saying :
" I asked to come in here for for a reason.
I hope you don't mind, ma'am."
" Our home is for our friends," answered
Mrs. Carson gently. " I would like to see you
here often, friend."
She knew, somehow, that Mary McBirney
had a great thing to say.
"This is the reason:" said Mrs. McBirney.
And then she told them the whole story.
It had been rainy Sunday. The rain began
before daylight; it wiped out the sunrise, and
it turned what should have been a golden mid-
summer day into mere blankness and desolation.
At least, a person could look at it that way if he
Up at the McBirney house no one had thought
of dressing for church.
" No one but a fish could get anywhere to-
day," said Jim.
" I feel just as if we were living under a water-
fall," declared Azalea. " What'll we do to-day,
" I don't know 'less you tell me stories."
" Piggy* I don't want to do all the thinking.
If I tell stories you've got to tell them too. It's
THE SACRIFICE 259
nice we're going to have chicken for dinner, isn't
it? " She sniffed the air contentedly.
" You bet it is. And strawberries and 'lasses
" I wonder what Carin's doing, Jim? "
" Fooling 'round in that there studio of hern.
My, but she can paint, can't she? Did you see
that picture she done of me sitting up in the
" Jim McBirney, what makes you talk like
that? You know better than to say * done ' for
' did ' and you know willow isn't pronounced
1 wilier.' "
" Now, look here, Zalie, you leave me alone
and let me talk like I want to. I ain't got on my
Sunday clothes, have I ? Well then, I don't have
to put on Sunday talk. Just let me feel comfort-
able s can't you? "
" I wish Carin were up here to-day."
" And Hi. I'd rather have Hi. Carin makes
me kind o' squirm. She's a mighty nice girl, but
she don't make me feel to home."
" Oh, Jim, she's lovely. And such fun too!
She can get up the best plays you ever heard
" Girl plays, I reckon. She couldn't think of
anything that would interest boys."
. " Maybe boys wouldn't have the sense to be
" Children," broke in the soft voice of Ma
McBirney, " I've got the dinner in the oven and
there ain't nothing occupying me just at present.
Wouldn't one of you read me a story from them
Youth's Companions Carin sent home by pa
last night? Seems as if it would pass the time."
The children flushed a little. They knew
when ma disliked their way of talking. She
had her own particular fashion of correcting
" You read, Azalea," said Jim, sinking into a
chair and staring out of the rain-beaten window.
" And you'll have to read good and loud to get
ahead of this bellering and roaring."
And, indeed, the wind shook the cabin, and
the rain fluttered down the chimney; the stream
that tumbled down the mountain side was fairly
shouting and the trees were beating their
drenched branches together with a sound like
the rushing of great birds. But high above the
elemental din, Azalea's clear voice arose. And
peace dwelt within the cabin. It dwelt there
THE SACRIFICE 261
while the children set the table for the good
dinner that Mrs. McBirney had cooked, and
while they devoured that dinner with perfect
concentration of purpose. And afterward, when
ma had read a psalm to them, and pa had told a
story about something that happened to him
when he was a boy and the fires were raging
over the mountains, they settled down to a quiet
game of jack straws on the deal table.
And then, just as they were on the point of
being bored again, the storm cleared. Above
them the deep blue sky shone through the fleecy
whiteness of the clouds, and beneath them torn
fragments of cloud swam along like floating
islands over the purple valley. The sunset came
in rose and gold, and in the east a proud young
moon, bright as a happy bride, swam up into the
The McBirneys, silent and happy, cloaked
against the dampness, sat at " Outlook Point "
and looked about them at the beautiful world.
" This is as good as church, to my way of
thinking," remarked Thomas McBirney. " If
you can't worship the Almighty when you see
a thing like this, then there ain't no manner of
worship in you."
"What's that, Thomas? Singing?" asked
Something sweet and clear troubled the
silence, and as the four harkened it swelled.
" Singing!" decided Thomas. " Who can it
" I know," cried Azalea gayly. " It's the Car-
sons! Oh, ma, it's Carin and her father and
Something gripped Mary McBirney's loving,
jealous heart. She knew why they were coming.
She had asked them to come for this very
thing, but when the rain had set in, it had
seemed like an answer to her secret prayers
those prayers which she would not admit to
herself that she prayed, and which were no more
than her " heart's sincere desire."
The horses drew nearer; the words of the song
could be heard.
" Now the day is over,
Night is drawing nigh "
The three voices, softly blended, sang the
familiar lines to the slow motion of their horses.
THE SACRIFICE 263
Azalea ran to the edge of the " Outlook " and
sent her clear voice, rested and refreshed from
the strain it had undergone in the days of her
enforced singing of noisy songs, ringing down
the mountain side.
" Shadows of the evening,
Steal across the sky."
The tightness at Ma McBirney's heart in-
creased. How like her Azalea was to these
others like them in voice and manner, and
unafraid of them! They had heard her, for Mr.
Carson interrupted himself to call out to her.
Then the song went on, and there were four
" Jesus give the weary
Calm and sweet repose;
With Thy tenderest blessing,
May our eyelids close."
Now the sounds grew fainter as the windings
of the road took them away; then they swelled
again, as the horses returned on the winding
road. But Azalea sang on, delighting in the
song her mother had taught her the song that
had comforted her when she had grown sick at
heart at all the silly things she had been obliged
to sing when she was " the show girl."
" Grant to little children,
Visions bright of Thee;
Guard the sailors tossing
On the deep, blue sea."
"They are here," said Ma McBirney in so
solemn a voice that Jim and Azalea stared at
And so they were. They dismounted easily,
threw their bridles, Western fashion, over the
heads of their horses, and walked forward with
pleasant greetings. But even their voices were
different. They too seemed solemn.
" It must be the night," thought Azalea. She
took Carin's hand, and they all walked back to
the Point, and sat there watching the little
islands of cloud as they floated across the path
of the moon and turned from cloud into some-
thing precious and radiant, not quite so pale as
silver nor as bright as gold.
" We might be eagles or angels," mur-
mured Mrs. Carson, sinking into her seat.
" We couldn't stand it in the house any
longer," Carin explained. " We made up our
minds we'd have a ride even if the roads were
" The ford must have been pretty deep," re-
marked Pa McBirney.
" I took the leading straps of the horses the
ladies were riding, and we made a rush for it
together," Mr. Carson explained.
Then silence fell. There certainly was some-
thing strange about the night.
" We had other reasons for coming up here
to-night," Mr. Carson said at last. " We came
because we knew that we could sit out here with
you all, and that we could all look at this won-
derful scene, and forget all about our bodies,
and our troubles, and our little human way of
looking at things. We could be, as my wife
said, like eagles, or like angels. We could re-
alize that we really were spirits."
It was Ma McBirney who murmured:
" We came," went on Mr. Carson gently, " to
ask Azalea to make a choice. We are going to
invite her to live with us and to be as our own
daughter. She will share equally with Carin in
everything; at least as far as it is possible for us
to make an equal division. We know the story of
her life and that under more fortunate circum-
stances the home we live in would have been
hers. She would have been educated in the best
manner and fitted for the life of a lady of posi-
tion. Now, of our four children only one is
left. So we offer her a share of our hearts and
our substance. Do you understand, Azalea? "
Carin threw an arm about Azalea's waist.
" Oh, say yes, dear. We will be so happy."
" We will make you welcome from our heart
of hearts," said Mrs. Carson. But it seemed as
if she were holding something back; and Azalea
saw her white hand laid upon Ma McBirney's
The moon had gone under a dense cloud, and
they were left in the bland, moist darkness. And
AZALEA CHOOSES 267
in that darkness there gleamed before Azalea's
mental gaze, the two homes the great, beau-
tiful manor, and the mountain cabin. She knew
little of the life in the former, but what she did
know of it came to her now with all its ease, its
pleasure, and its promise. She thought of the
struggle there in the mountain home; of the
sacrifice, the hard work, the eternal " doing
without." Then, as if something above and be-
yond her came to her to lift her out of herself,
she glimpsed the kind wishes and helpful affec-
tion of those in the manor; and over against
them she placed the tense and tender love of
Mary McBirney who had clasped her to her
heart when she was motherless.
They did not need her at the manor; but she
was greatly needed in the cabin. Love de-
manded tribute of her. And suddenly, Azalea
knew what she must do. If Ma McBirney
loved her like a mother, she, Azalea, gave back
a daughter's love. There was, after all, nothing
worth thinking of save that save love. A
warm glow swept over her, and the deepest sense
of contentment she ever had known in all her
restless, curious life of change rilled her heart.
" I've thought of everything," she said.
" And I thank you, thank you, thank you
you dears!" She turned toward the Carsons,
and they could see that she was holding out her
hands in the gloom. " But this is my home. Ma
McBirney is dearer to me than any one now on
the earth. I'll stay with her if she wants me."
And then she suddenly remembered that Mrs.
McBirney had not said a word to oppose Mr.
Carson's arguments. Could it be, that because
of their poverty, they wished her to go to The
Shoals? Little cold tremors ran over her, and
her heart turned sick.
" But, ma, do you want me? " she cried with
"Want you!" sobbed ma, holding out her
arms. " Want you, honey bird? "
The moon swam out again into the clear sky,
transfiguring their world. A mocking bird
began to sing, whistling low, muffled notes of
*' It is the word of truth you have spoken,
Azalea," said Mr. Carson slowly, " and I thank
you for your honesty, and for your nobility too,
my dear. We understand everything; don't we
Lucy, my love? "
" Everything," replied Mrs. Carson.
AZALEA CHOOSES 269
" But now we have something to say which
is not a request, but practically a command.
Next week Miss Parkhurst, a friend of mine
and a teacher of unusual ability, is coming to
instruct Carin. You are to come daily, Azalea,
to share her lessons with her. And that the
going and coming may not be too much for you,
we are sending a well-trained little horse to
you. Its feed and keep shall be, so far as pos-
sible, the care of my stable boys, so that my good
friend McBirney, who is so willing to take othe~r
people's burdens on him, may not have another
one added. But I promise you all, for myself
and for Mrs. Carson and Carin, that you shall
be thought of, Azalea, as the daughter of this
home here on the mountains. And while we
shall give you all you will take in the way of
schooling and development, we will not do one
thing to win you away from the life you have
" Thank you, sir," murmured Azalea. She
could say no more.
" Oh, thank you," added Ma McBirney,
crushing down the tormenting little doubts
that would arise in her heart. Could she really
keep this scarlet tanager in her wren's nest?
But no doubts troubled the others. Jim sat
thinking and thinking. What wonderful things
came to Zalie! And he he was a gawk a
dunce a silly hill billy ! He wondered Azalea
paid any attention to him! And yet, somehow,
she seemed to think of herself as his sister. Well,
then, he'd stick by her, sir, no matter what hap-
pened. Till he was an old man with long white
whiskers he'd stick by her, and if anyone did
her any sort of harm, he'd fix him. He almost
leaped to his feet and stood there straight and
fierce with his own combat, beside the girl.
" I forgot to say," observed Mr. Carson in his
slow way, " that there will be two little horses.
They were a pair and the man didn't want to
sell them singly. So the second one is for Jim."
"No! " cried Jim, and his voice sounded al-
most defiant in his excitement.
"Yes!" cried Mr. Carson, mocking him.
" Shake hands on it." And he wrung Jim's
hand in his own. Then the boy's shyness came
on him and made him slip away in the dark-
ness. Yet he was on hand to hold the horses
when the Carsons were ready to mount.
They rode away in the moonlight, with the
bewitching world of cloud and shine about them.
He stood there, straight and fierce.
AZALEA CHOOSES 271
The trees were transformed into enchanted sil-
ver things amid which elves and dryads seemed
to hide ; the rushing water was a torrent of danc-
ing crystal where the water maidens played.
The three who rode away, went singing. But
this time it was a song that Azalea did not know.
She said so to Ma McBirney with a troubled
" What a lovely, lovely song! And I never so
much as heard it before."
Ma Mculincy hissed her slowly, and said with
" But you see, Zalie, they are going to teach
it to you."
Azalea did not answer. She lighted her
" 'Night, Jim," she called. " You couldn't
get rid of me, could you? "
" Could if I tried. Didn't try."
" Good night, Pa McBirney."
" Good night, daughter." It was the first time
he ever had called her that. She slipped over
and bending above him, dropped a kiss on his
brow as he sat there in the open room the
queer two-sided chamber that divided the closed
rooms of the house.
" I reckon I'd better go to your room with
you," said Ma McBirney, " and see you safe."
So together they climbed the rude stairs to
that cotelike chamber that looked out on the
transfigured mountain. All about them, save for
the throating of the mocking bird, was silence.
And in silence th - two parted for the night.
They had no need v)f words. Stronger than any
mere accident of relationship was the love and
trust in their hearts.
Books for Older Children byL. Frank Bauni
The Daring Twins Series
By L. FRANK BAUM
IN writing "The Daring
Twins Series" Mr.Baum
yielded to the hundreds of
requests that have been
made of him by youngsters,
both boys and girls, who in
their early childhood read
and loved his famous "Oz"
books, to write a story for
young folk of the ages be-
tween twelve and eighteen.
A story of the real
life oi real boys and
girls in a real family
under real conditions
The Daring Twins
While preparing these books Mr. Baum lived with
his characters. They have every element of the
drama of life as it begins within the lives of children.
The two stories are a mixture of the sublime and
the ridiculous; the foibles and fancies of childhood,
interspersed with humor and pathos.
Price, $1.00 each
Publishers The Reilly & Britton Co. Chicago
The Aunt Jane's Nieces
BOOKS FOR GIRLS
By EDITH VAN DYNE
Aunt Jane's Nieces
Aunt Jane's Nieces Abroad
Aunt Jane's Nieces at Millvttle
Aunt Jane's Nieces at Work
Aunt Jane's Nieces in Society
Aunt Jane's Nieces and Uncle John
Aunt Jane's Nieces on Vacation
*~* books and yet stories
that wil1 appeal to brother
as we ^ and to older
folk. Real and vital
rousing stories of the experiences and ex-
ploits of three real girls who do things.
Without being sensational, Mrs. Van Dyne has
succeeded in writing a series of stories that
have the tug and stir of fresh young blood
in them. Each story is complete in itself.
Illustrated I2mo. Uniform cloth binding,
stamped in colors, with beautiful colored inlay.
Fancy colored jackets. Price 60 cents each
Publishers The Reilly & Britton Co. Chicago
Exhilarating Books for Girls of Today
The Flying Girl Series
By EDITH VAN DYNE
Author of "Aunt Jane's Nieces" Series
/CAPITAL up-to-the-minute stories for girls and young
VJ people, in which the author is at her very best. Thrilling
and full of adventure, but of that wholesome type par-
ents are glad to put in the hands of their daughters. Two
The Flying Girl
Orissa Kane, self-reli-
ant and full of sparkling
good nature, under-study
for her brother, prospec-
tive inventor and aviator
whose experiments put
the Kane family into
great difficulties, in the
crisis proves resourceful
and plucky, and saves
the day in a most thrill-
The Flying Girl
and Her Chum
This story takes Orissa
and her friend Sybil
through further adventures that test these two clever girls
to the limit. A remarkably well told story.
ismo. Bound in extra cloth with design stamp-
ing on cover and fancy jacket. Printed on high
grade paper. Illustrated in black and white.
Price 60 cents each. Postage 12 cents.
Publishers The Reilly & Britton Co. Chicago
By SUSANNE METCALF
A GIRLS' book with a clever, quick-mov-
ing plot is unusual. ANNABEL is
that kind. The heroine is a lovable girl,
but one with plenty of snap her red hair
testifies to that. Her friend, Will Garden,
too, is a boy of unusual
qualities, as is apparent
in everything he does.
He and Annabel make
an excellent team.
The two, the best of
chums, retrieve the for-
tunes of the Garden
family in a way that
makes some exciting
situations. The secret
of the mysterious Mr.
Jordan is surprised by
Annabel, while Will, in
a trip to England with an unexpected cli-
max, finds the real fortune of the Gardens.
ANNABEL is a book whose make-up is
in keeping with the high quality of the story.
Beautiful cover and jacket in colors, 12 mo. Illustra-
ted by Joseph Pierre Nuyttens. Price 60 cents
Publishers The Reilly & Britton Co. Chicago
MARGARET LOVE SANDERSON
ESOURCEFUL, self-reliant, sunny-nat-
ured Captain Becky will find many
friends among girl readers. The Captain
Becky Series is a noteworthy contribution to
books for girls distinctive and individual
in every detail, inside and out.
Two very much alive stories of a girl
who makes things happen who is a doer.
Whether she is on cruise on the picturesque
Indian River in Florida or in laughable
masquerade among the old homesteads of
New Hampshire, her experiences are worth
writing about and worth reading. Two
Captain Becky's Winter Cruise.
Captain Becky's Masquerade.
Attractive binding; cover inlay in full color. Frontis-
piece for each by Norman Hall. Price 60 cents.
Publishers The Reilly & Britton Co. Chicago
at Englishman's Camp
By MAJOR M. J. PHILLIPS
HPAKE a boy away from the stuffy schoolroom
A and turn him loose away up in the jack pine
country the land of deer and bear and trout, and
he will grow "fat and saucy" as did Bunty. And
if he is a wide-
he will find excite-
ment aplenty as
did Bunty. Give
him a rifle, a rod
and reel, and a de-
sire to know things,
and , well you have
a story every boy
will enjoy reading.
Camp" is a story
full of boy interest,
written by a man
who knows boys as
he knows the woods
and streams a
AT ENGLISHMAN'S CAMP
learning something new of the lore of out-of-doors
hunting, fishing, camping out.
Snappy cover stamped in three colors, and three-color
jacket. Illustrated by Emile Nelson. Price $1.00
Publishers The Reilly & Britton Co. Chicago
By H. L. SAYLER
1. THE AIRSHIP BOYS Or, The Quest of the Aztec Treasure
2. THE AIRSHIP BOYS ADRIFT Or, Saved by an Aeroplane
3. THE AIRSHIP BOYS DUE NORTH Or, By Balloon to the Pole
4. THE AIRSHIP BOYS IN THE BARREN LANDS Or, The Secret of
the White Eskimos
5. THE AIRSHIP BOYS IN FINANCE Or, The Flight of the Flying
6. THE AIRSHIP BOYS' OCEAN FLYER Or, New York [to London
in Twelve Hours
7. THE AIRSHIP BOYS AS DETECTIVES Or, On Secret Service in
Fascinating stories of that wonderful region of
invention where imagination and reality so nearly
meet. There is no more interesting field for stories
for wide-awake boys. Mr. Sayler combines a re-
markable narrative ability with a degree of technical
knowledge that makes these books correct in all
airship details. Full of adventure without being
The make-up of these books is strictly up-
to-date and fetching. The covers are emblem-
atic, and the jackets are showy and in colors.
The illustrations are full of dash and vim.
Standard novel size, I2mo. Price $1.00 each.
Publishers The Reilly & Britton Co. Chicago
THE GIANT MOOSE. The monarch of the big Northwest; a story told
over camp fires in the reek of cedar smoke and the silence of the barrens.
THE WHITE TIGER OF NEPAL. The weird story of the man-killer
of the foothills. Tinged with the mysticism of India, dramatic and stirring.
THE BLIND LION OF THE CONGO. A story of the least
known part of the earth and its most feared beast. A gripping tale of the
land of the white pigmies.
THE KING BEAR OF KADIAK ISLAND. A tale of the
bully of the Frozen North and his mysterious guardian. A game-and-
man-story that makes a good boy-story.
The topnotch of production in frogs' froofcs. Remarkable
covers and four-color jackets. Illustrations and
cover designs by Dan Sayre Grosbeck.
Price, 60 cents each
THE REILLY & BRITTON CO.
of the Air Books
By GORDON STUART
Are stirring stories of adven-
ture in which real boys, clean-
cut and wide-awake, do the
things other wide-awake boys
like to read about.
THE BOY SCOUTS OF THE AIR AT
THE BOY SCOUTS OF THE AIR AT
THE BOY SCOUTS OF THE AIR IN
THE BOY SCOUTS OF THE AIR IN
Splendid Illustrations by Norman Hall
Publishers The Reilly & Britton Co. Chicago
The Best Aviation Stories for Boys
' I A HESE are the newest and most exciting
J- books of aeroplane adventure. A special
point is the correctness of the aviation details.
/. IN THE CLOUDS FOR UNCLE SAM
Or, Morey Marshall of the Signal Corps
2. THE STOLEN AEROPLANE
Or, How Bud Wilson Made Good
3. THE AEROPLANE EXPRESS
Or, The Boy Aeronaut's Grit
4. THE BOY AERONAUTS' CLUB
Or, Flying for Fun
5. A CRUISE IN THE SKY
Or, The Legend of the Great Pink Pearl
6. BA TTLING THE BIGHORN
Or, The Aeroplane in the Rockies
7. WHEN SCOUT MEETS SCOUT
Or, The Aeroplane Spy
Fully illustrated. Colored frontispiece.
Cloth, izmo. 60 cents each.
Publishers The Reilly & Britton Co. Chicago
Good Books for Boys
The Boy Fortune Hunters
By FLOYD AKERS
The Boy Fortune Hunters in Alaska
The Boy Fortune Hunters in Panama
The Boy Fortune Hunters in Egypt
The Boy Fortune Hunters in China
The Boy Fortune Hunters in Yucatan
The Boy Fortune Hunters in the South Seas
MR. AKERS, in these new books, has at a single
bound taken the front rank as a writer for
boys. The stories are full of adventure, yet clean,
bright and up-to-date. The first volume tells of
the exciting scenes in the early days of the Alaskan
gold fields. The next book takes "The Boy Fortune
Hunters" to the "Canal Zone," and the third story
is filled with stirring incidents in a trip through
Egypt. The fourth book relates exciting adven-
tures in the Flowery Kingdom, and the fifth and
sixth stories detail further adventures in Yucatan
and among the South Sea Islands.
Illustrated I2mo. Uniform cloth bind-
ing, stamped in three colors. Stunning
colored wrapper. Price 60 cents each
Publishers The Reilly & Britton Co. Chicago
An Ideal Book for Young Travelers
Travel Notes Abroad
MY OWN RECORD
CLARA POWERS WILSON
IT WOULD be hard to imagine a girl who does not want
a real record of the ecstatic joys of her first glimpses of
foreign lands. This very attractive book is the first of its
kind, and will be found to provide for every kind of an
experience that comes to young American travelers.
There are departments for recording the itinerary, the
events of the trip across, friends met, autographs, expenses,
different general divisions for the various countries, places
to keep a memorandum of hotels where the travelers stayed,
also of restaurants, shops, galleries, and purchases, the
return trip, etc., etc.
TRAVEL NOTES ABROAD is profusely illustrated
and decorated in two colors with striking cover design, and
inclosed in a box. Price, cloth, $1.50; leather, 9s.oo.
Publishers The Reilly & Britton Co. Chicago
A Novelty Every Girl Wants
The Girl Graduate
HER OWN BOOK
IN WHICH to keep the happy record of
her last year at school or college a book
she will keep and prize always.
There is a place for everything dear to
the girl graduate's heart and memory
class flower, color, yell, motto, photographs,
jokes and frolics.
Departments for social events, officers,
teachers, invitations, baccalaureate sermon,
programmes, presents, press notices, class
prophecy and various "doings."
THE GIRL GRADUATE is equally appro-
priate for young girls leaving grade or high
schools and their older sisters who have
"finished" at college or boarding school. It
makes a suitable present at any season of
FIFTEENTH EDITION. Revised and Improved
Dainty designs in delicate colorings on pearl gray sta-
tionery. Cover to match, with a trellis of roses in tints
and decorations in gold.
8vo. 200 pages. Decorated on every page . Each book
put up in an attractive gray box. Price $1^0. Swiss
velvet ooze, price $2.50. Full leather, gold edges, De
Luxe edition, price $3.00. Commencement edition,
crushed levant, price $6.00.
Publishers The Reilly & Britton Co. Chicago
A. Memory Book for Younger Girls
School -Girl Days
CLARA POWERS WILSON
A SCHOOL memory book appropriate for
girls of the upper grammar grades
through high school, private school and
normal school. New and exquisite illustra-
tions, printed in two colors on specially made
tinted paper, having a good writing surface.
Bound in fancy cloth with fetching cover
design in five colors and gold. Large 8vo.
192 pages. In beautiful box. Price $1.25
Swiss Velvet Ooze. Silk Marker. Special Box. Price $2.00
Publishers The Reilly & Britton Co. Chicago